People who keep birds and poultry are now being asked to keep their birds indoors to help limit the spread of avian flu.
The new measures, which came into force this week means it’s now a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures.
The restrictions follow an increasing number of cases of avian flu in the country, including a case in two wild birds at Chasewater Country Park and a recent case in a backyard flock in East Staffordshire.
The new rules apply to anyone keeping birds, whether it’s a few hens in a back garden, rearing game birds or a large commercial farm with tighter restrictions being placed on those bird keepers in closer proximity to the outbreak in East Staffordshire.
Visitors to Staffordshire’s country parks and areas with open water are also being advised to follow any local guidance and not to touch or try to rescue sick or injured birds. Anyone spotting dead birds should report them to the park rangers or to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Animal Health at Staffordshire County Council said: “Over the past few weeks we have seen an increase in the number of cases of the disease which is why the additional measures on keeping captive birds indoors have been introduced. It’s really important that everyone who keeps birds follow the official advice if we are to limit the spread and eradicate the disease.
"While the risk to the public from this strain of avian flu is very low, people visiting our country parks should follow any local advice. Please do not touch or try and rescue dead or sick birds as they could be infected. Instead contact Defra on 03459 335577.”
The A(H5N1) strain is highly pathogenic to other birds, but the risk to human health is considered very low.
Further information on how to help prevent the spread of avian flu can be found at: http://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu