Residents and visitors are being reminded to report, and not to touch or pick up, dead or sick birds they find while out and about enjoying Kent’s great outdoors. All bird keepers are also legally required to follow strict housekeeping measures to help protect their flocks.
The call to follow Defra guidance comes after a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in wild and captive birds across the country, including in Essex.
Commonly known as bird flu, the disease circulates naturally in wild birds so when they migrate to the UK in winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other domestic birds.
Mike Hill, Kent County Council (KCC) Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “As we do every year, we are keeping a close eye on the situation.
“The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reassured that the risk to the general public’s health is very low and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) assures properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
“But we do want to remind people that should they find dead swans, geese or ducks or other wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, they should report them to the Defra Helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
“This reporting helps the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) understand both how avian flu is distributed geographically and in different types of bird – so people’s calls do count.”
In the event of an outbreak in Kent, KCC Trading Standards would work closely with the APHA to ensure measures and restrictions in place are followed to protect public and animal health – and enforce the legislation.
Head of Kent Trading Standards Steve Rock said: “Since early November, the UK’s chief vets have put in place an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across Great Britain making it a legal requirement for keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their birds – whether they are in a small back yard, or on a large commercial poultry farm.
“Good housekeeping such as keeping flocks away from wild birds with netting, and feeding and watering birds indoors, is an essential defence against bird flu and key to limiting its spread.
“People who have over 50 birds are also legally required to register but anyone who keeps poultry, even as pets, should sign up so they be contacted in an outbreak.”
To help all bird keepers comply with biosecurity rules, Defra maintains updated guidance and self-assessment checklists which can be viewed and downloaded on the GOV.UK website here: www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#biosecurity
For the latest avian flu situation visit, and details of the latest restrictions – including a localised avian influenza prevention zone for parts of North Yorkshire – visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
For further advice to the public, go to www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu