Friday, May 24, 2024

UK Triumphs Over Historic Avian Influenza Outbreak

Great Britain has officially announced its liberation from the worst-ever outbreak of avian influenza, marking a significant milestone as declared by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). This declaration underscores the absence of active cases and delineates the UK’s zonal freedom from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), sparking optimism within the poultry sector.

Optimism in the Poultry Sector:

The cessation of the avian influenza outbreak brings relief and renewed prospects for trade within Great Britain’s poultry industry. With no current cases of HPAI in captive birds, the risk to poultry health is now deemed low, enhancing the sector’s operational outlook.

Industry’s Reaction:

Richard Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, expressed his satisfaction with the development, noting the long-awaited freedom from restrictions that have plagued the industry for over two and a half years. “This freedom allows us to rebuild and strengthen our trading relationships,” Griffiths remarked during a BBC interview. He highlighted the severe economic impact of past outbreaks, which cost the industry immensely due to trade restrictions and movement limitations within the country.

Lifting Trade Restrictions:

The declaration of freedom is a crucial step for the UK, enabling negotiations with international trading partners to lift previous bans on British poultry products. Griffiths emphasized the necessity for swift action in these negotiations, given the global prevalence of avian influenza and the established protocols for reinstating trade.

Vigilance Remains Crucial:

Despite the positive news, Griffiths called for ongoing vigilance within the industry. “We must maintain strict biosecurity measures to safeguard against future outbreaks,” he advised, stressing the importance of preparedness without shortcuts.

Regulations for Backyard Flocks:

The announcement coincides with new regulatory measures for backyard flock owners. Starting from October 1st, owners are required to register their birds to help prevent future outbreaks, with non-compliance potentially leading to a £5,000 fine. This registry aims to provide a comprehensive database of bird populations across Great Britain, crucial for managing and mitigating avian diseases.

Supporting Future Prevention:

Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, endorsed the new regulations, pointing out that a detailed understanding of bird populations will aid in tracking and controlling disease spread. This move is part of a broader strategy to enhance the country’s capacity to respond to avian health threats, supported by ongoing research into avian influenza.

Industry Advocacy:

James Mottershead, NFU Poultry Chair, urged the government to ensure that the new measures lead to a tangible reduction in restrictions for commercial poultry operations, particularly when outbreaks affect non-commercial flocks.


The UK’s declaration of freedom from avian influenza represents a pivotal turning point for its poultry industry, with government and sector leaders advocating for continued diligence and cooperation to sustain this newfound status and boost economic recovery.

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