Avian flu

Avian influenza is a notifiable animal disease.

If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately in England by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

Commonly known as bird flu, the disease circulates naturally in wild birds so when they migrate to the UK in winter they can pass the disease on to poultry and other domestic birds.

For further information see Defra’s advice to the public.

Latest situation

The UK is currently facing its largest ever outbreak of avian influenza. It began in autumn 2021. Bird flu was confirmed in wild birds in Kent in February and June 2022.

An Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) is in place across Great Britain since 3 November. The AIPZ means that all poultry and other captive bird keepers must take extra measures to ensure biosecurity to help protect flocks, including regularly disinfecting equipment and to promptly report any possible cases.  It is not necessary to house birds, although poultry and other captive birds must be housed if they are in a specific protected zone.

If you see a dead bird or other dead wildlife where the cause of death is unclear, please do not touch or move it. Keep away and do not let your pet (especially dogs) go near.

For the very latest situation with restrictions and outbreaks visit GOV.UK.

Safety measures

Good biosecurity is an essential defence against diseases such as avian influenza and is key to limiting its spread.

To help all bird keepers comply with biosecurity rules, Defra maintains updated biosecurity guidance and self-assessment checklists.

If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek advice from your vet straight away.

You should also register your poultry, even if only kept as pets, so you can be contacted during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

You can sign up to Defra’s alerts service to keep up to date with the latest news.

More information

Read our animal and plant health emergency plan (PDF, 2.4 MB) for further details how we prepare for emergency situations.