An avian influenza prevention zone for the whole of Wales has come into force as of 00.01 this morning.
Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths announced the precautions yesterday following outbreaks of the H5N6 strain in south Dorset and Warwickshire wild birds.
A third case of the disease was picked up in Amwell Nature Reserve near Ware, Hertfordshire, on Saturday (January 20) with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust confirming 19 dead birds at the site tested positive.
The site reopened yesterday after a visit from a health and safety officer.
In light of the three outbreaks, Ms Griffiths said a veterinary risk assessment confirmed the risk level of disease being found in wild birds in Wales had increased from medium to high and the disease could occur ‘at any time’.
She said: “As a precautionary measure, in response to the increased risk level, and to mitigate the risk of infection, I am declaring an All Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.
“Although we have had, as yet, no findings of Avian Influenza in 2018, I consider this Prevention Zone and the requirement for enhanced biosecurity to be proportionate to the risk level faced in Wales.
“It is essential we take steps to protect our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy in Wales.”
Chief Veterinary Officer Christianne Glossop added: “All keepers of poultry and other captive birds will need to comply with the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. Keepers must remain vigilant for signs of disease and practice the very highest levels of biosecurity.
“I strongly encourage all poultry keepers, even those with fewer than 50 birds, to provide their details to the Poultry Register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak, enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity and minimise the spread of infection.”
It comes a week after Defra announced a nationwide prevention zone for poultry keepers in England.
Dr Hazel Wright, Farmers Union of Wales senior policy officer, said: “Whilst no cases have been confirmed in Wales this year, we are urging poultry keepers to follow the prevention zone requirements as outlines by the Welsh government to practice good biosecurity.
“Alongside additional biosecurity measures, poultry keepers are being advised to provide details of their flocks to the poultry register.
“This will ensure that they can be contacted immediately in the event of an avian influenza outbreak and can protect their flocks accordingly.”
The prevention zone requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to undertake specific biosecurity measures, including: