The National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO)- Defra Revises Avian Influenza Status.
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), which represents gamekeepers in England and Wales, has informed its members that the official risk status for the entry of avian influenza (bird flu) into the UK in wild birds has been raised to the category classified as “medium”.
The risk of incursion into UK game premises and poultry farms (i.e. the risk of exposure) remains however at a “low, but heightened” level.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (an arm of Defra) made the announcement on 11 November 2016 following an increase in reports of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in mainland Europe. During November 2016, “found dead wild birds” have been reported in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Water birds were principally affected.
A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said: “It is important to emphasis that there have been no reports to date of bird flu in the UK during this cycle of the disease. It is only prudent however for gamekeepers and others who run shoots to remain vigilant, looking out for and reporting any suspicious or unexplained bird deaths in wild or kept birds. It is essential to maintain high levels of biosecurity and watch for signs of ill health in any overwintered birds.
“As the UK is now in the peak winter bird migration period, gamekeepers and the shooting community as a whole are ideally placed to play a key role in helping to discern – and report – bird flu infection in wild birds, should it occur here. The NGO is in contact with government officials monitoring avian flu, and will issue further information to members if the current risk status is revised.
Wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are routinely undertaken in incidents where five birds are found dead in the same location and at the same time. NGO members should report any such incidents by calling the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm) and select option 1, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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