Prevention zone is now lifted

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The Scottish Government has confirmed that the avian influenza prevention zone covering Scotland has now been lifted.

The zone required bird keepers in Scotland to put in place enhanced biosecurity measures prior to letting their birds outside, in order to reduce the risk of disease.

However, the ban on shows and gatherings of poultry, waterfowl and game birds will remain in force until May 15, when a new general licence will come into force.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “This will be welcome news for many keepers who have opted to keep their birds indoors to protect them from a seasonally increased risk from highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8. This decision has been made following the recent veterinary risk assessment concluding that the risk of avian influenza incursion to poultry and captive birds in Scotland had decreased to low.

“This has been a testing time for all of us, and I would like to thank all bird keepers in Scotland for their co-operation and vigilance. Your positive and committed response has helped us reach this point.”

Scotland’s chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas said: “It’s a relief to see that the risk of HPAI H5N8 in Scotland has reduced, but this does not mean we should be complacent; the risk of avian influenza has not disappeared. It is essential that bird keepers maintain effective biosecurity year-round, not just when a prevention zone is in place. Bird keepers should consider maintaining excellent biosecurity practices like washing boots and equipment with approved disinfectant, implementing effective rodent control, minimizing unnecessary visitors and reducing their flock’s contact with wild birds.

“I strongly urge businesses to reassess their contingency plans, given the new perspective this season’s outbreaks of H5N8 provides. Practical advice about their specific arrangements should be sought from their private vets and their local Animal Plant and Health Agency office.”