Bird flu prevention rules to stay in place in North West

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Measures to reduce the risk of bird flu will remain in place in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde despite them being lifted elsewhere in the UK.

Rules will remain in place in targeted areas of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside following evidence of heightened risk in these regions.

Poultry gatherings can resume in all areas outside the remaining AIPZ, but poultry from the affected districts of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside will not be able to attend

The latest risk assessment published by Defra – the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs – finds overall risk across England has not increased, but there is a heightened risk in parts of the North West.

This follows a recent confirmed reports of an outbreak among chickens in Thornton.

Scientists believe the disease could still be circulating in the area, either in wild birds or the environment.

To minimise the risk of disease spreading in this area, a new, targeted Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will be introduced covering the districts of Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde, Preston, Sefton, West Lancashire, South Ribble, Chorley, Barrow-in-Furness, South Lakeland.

The new prevention zone will require keepers to continue to observe existing disease prevention measures such as minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors.

Poultry owners in the zone must continue to keep their birds quarantined.

A Defra spokesman said: “Recent cases in backyard flocks provide evidence that infection is still either circulating in wild resident birds or present in the environment.”

An AIPZ requiring keepers to observe strict disease prevention measures and a ban on poultry gatherings have been in place across England since December 2016.

From May 15, keepers across most of England will no longer be required by law to follow these measures.

The spokesman said: “Poultry gatherings can resume in all areas outside the remaining AIPZ, but poultry from the affected districts of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside will not be able to attend.

“The Government will continue to review all disease control measures based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice.”