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Essex County Council Issues Bird Flu Update: Maldon District Included in Prevention Zone

Published on Wednesday, 12th October 2022

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Regional Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Prevention Zone containing legal requirement to keep birds indoors in force for parts of Essex

Law now requires bird-keepers in eight Essex districts and Southend-on-Sea to keep poultry and pet birds indoors.

A Regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, declared by the Government at the weekend comes into force today, Wednesday 12 October.

Districts within Essex which are included in the Prevention Zone are: Chelmsford, Rochford, Tendring, Colchester, Maldon, Braintree, Basildon, Castle Point and the unitary authority area of Southend-on-Sea. The zone also covers the whole of Norfolk and Suffolk.

This Prevention Zone will be in place until a lifting statement is issued by Defra.

Contained within the declaration of the prevention zone is an order which legally requires all bird keepers in the zone to keep birds indoors, including poultry and pet birds.

Bird keepers within the zone must also legally follow stringent bio-security measures. These include:

  • cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reducing the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
  • minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

The full list of bio-security measures required by law can be found here:

There have now been seven confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in Essex this year, including recent cases in Kelvedon, Heybridge and Witham.

The very latest Avian Influenza updates in England can be found here:

Avian Influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However, anyone who is concerned should call NHS 111 or speak to their GP. People in direct contact with the affected birds have been contacted and offered appropriate preventative treatment.

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “It is important to reassure people that the risk of anyone becoming infected as a result of an outbreak like this is extremely low.

“Nevertheless, it is important that we put the correct precautions in place and working with Defra and our county and district partners this is what we have done.

“With the declaration of the Regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, there are now two asks of Essex residents. Firstly, unless you have a real reason to do so, please do not visit sites where you know poultry is kept. If you have a pet bird, please keep it indoors. We all need to help our poultry producers to stop this disease.

“Secondly, to those of you living outside the Prevention Zone, we encourage you to take every precaution to slow or prevent the progress of the disease.”

The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Pet owners with other animals do not usually need to take other action. If a person has concerns regarding their pet, they should contact their private veterinary surgeon.