Great Britain’s chief veterinary officers have announced new restrictions following an outbreak of bird flu cases.

New rules will be in force for all bird keepers across England, Wales and Scotland following an increase in cases, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

It comes after bird flu was confirmed at a site in Wales.

The presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 was confirmed by interim chief veterinary officer Gavin Watkins in poultry at a site in Anglesey.


These are the new restrictions put in place

Bird flu restrictions

New rules will come into force from midday today.

All bird keepers in England, Wales and Scotland will now be required to follow strict biosecurity measures to protect their birds from avian flu.

Free-range birds will need to be kept within fenced areas, and bird keepers with more than 500 birds will be required to restrict access for non-essential people on sites.

Keepers will also need to change clothing and footwear before entering enclosures.

A joint statement from the chief veterinary officers for Wales, Scotland and England said: “"Bird keepers have faced the largest ever outbreak of avian flu this year and with winter brings an even more increased risk to flocks as migratory birds return to the United Kingdom.

"Scrupulous biosecurity and hygiene measures is the best form of defence, which is why we have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain, meaning that all bird keepers must take action to help prevent the disease spreading to more poultry and other domestic birds.

"The introduction of an AIPZ means regardless of whether you keep a few birds or thousands, you are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease."

Can humans get bird flu?

The bird flu can affect humans, but it depends on the strain of the virus, the NHS has said.

There is a very low risk to human health and food safety risk from avian influenza, according to public health advice.

Most strains aren't actually harmful to people but there are four that have raised concerns in recent years:

  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)
  • H5N6 (since 2014)
  • H5N8 (since 2016)

No humans have been infected with H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 or H5N8 bird flu in the UK which includes the type of H5N6 virus recently found in humans in China.

The strains of bird flu that have been found in some poultry, other captive birds and wild birds in the UK are the H5N8 and H5N1 variants.

H5N6 has also been found in some wild birds in the UK but it is important to note that this is a different strain to that seen in China.

Bird flu is spread to humans by:

  • touching infected birds
  • touching droppings or bedding
  • killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking

You also can't catch bird flu by eating fully cooked poultry or eggs, even if you're within an outbreak area.