POULTRY keepers in Hartlepool are being warned that highly pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 (bird flu) has been confirmed in the region.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency has confirmed that bird flu was found amongst laying chickens at a commercial farm in Redcar on Saturday.

Known affected birds have been culled and restrictions put into place to try and limit the spread of the disease.

A 3km Protection Zone has been introduced locally to the farm and a wider 10km Surveillance Zone encompassing some of Hartlepool, including parts of Seaton Carew and Hartlepool Power Station, has been declared.

Occupiers of premises within the Surveillance Zone are required to adopt a number of measures, including a restriction of movement of poultry, captive birds and mammals; recording any movement of birds on to and off the site; recording details of visitors and taking appropriate biosecurity measures.

Poultry and eggs have their movements restricted unless licensed by a veterinary inspector.

More information regarding these measures can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/959120/protection-surveillance-zone-declaration-IP18-DPR2021-09-AIV2021-02.pdf

Strict biosecurity measures have been in place since November as a nationwide Prevention Zone was declared following national outbreaks of bird flu.

This was later strengthened by new housing measures in December requiring bird keepers to keep their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances.

These measures are still in place but now strengthened further by the Protection Zone and Surveillance Zone in the region.

To ensure good biosecurity, all poultry keepers should:

  • Minimize movement in and out of bird enclosures.
  • Clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a DEFRA approved disinfectant at entrances and exits.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry.
  • Keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways.
  • Humanely control rats and mice.
  • Place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly.
  • Make sure there is no direct contact with poultry or other captive birds on other neighbouring premises.
  • Avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species, where possible.
  • Keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access.

Poultry keepers must keep a close watch on their birds for any signs of disease, and must seek prompt advice from a vet if they have any concerns. 

If they suspect any type of avian influenza they must report it immediately by calling the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

The public are also being advised to report dead waterfowl such as ducks and geese to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.

More information is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu or by contacting Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards Team on (01429) 523362.