Do you keep chickens? Important news on bird flu outbreak

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MedicAnimal’s Chief Vet comments on the outbreak of highly-infectious bird flu

Today the UK was warned about a new outbreak of a high-infectious strain of bird flu in Europe. The H5N7 strain is easily spread through wild, domestic and farmed birds. Poultry keepers, no matter how large or small scale, in the UK have been advised to keep all poultry inside for the next 30 days as a prevention strategy. Andrew Bucher, Chief

Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal, the UK’s leading online retailer, has some advice on how to keep your pet chickens comfortable and safe.

“It may sound silly if you only have a couple of chickens but make sure you register them. If the disease reaches the UK it is crucial that its effect is monitored. You need to also take steps to remove any direct contact of your birds with wild ones asap and instil a biosecurity program to minimise the indirect contact, no matter how trivial you think this sounds. Pathogenic flu epidemics can spread exceptionally rapidly by many people not following basic hygiene and biosecurity procedures.”

“Even if you are able to avoid direct contact between your domestic and wild birds, remember that indirect contact occurs by faecal contamination of ‘fomites’ including feed, water, utensils, clothing or equipment.”

“It must be noted that the prevention strategy is not saying we should be putting chickens away in dark, uncomfortable spaces for 30 days. Simple fencing and netting can be used around their usual coop to help minimise the risks. It’s just as much about keeping wild birds out as your birds in. If you have any concerns about your chickens’ wellbeing or safety contact your vet for further advice.”