A NEW avian flu prevention zone has been declared in part of North Yorkshire. 

It follows a number of confirmed and suspected cases of avian flu in the area. 

It came into force at 8pm last night in Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire districts.

It means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in that area to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

The Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “We have taken swift action to limit the risk from wild birds and have introduced a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers three districts in North Yorkshire to keep their birds housed and to implement enhanced biosecurity.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

”I urge all bird keepers to be vigilant and take all necessary steps to implement the highest standards of biosecurity.”

Last week, birds at premises near Leeming Bar, Bedale, were humanely culled after the H5N1 virus was found.

A temporary control zone covering 3km (1.8 miles) and 10km (6.2 miles) was in place around the Leeming Bar site.

Yesterday, Defra said the local avian prevention zone was declared following a risk assessment to help minimise the risk from wild birds and other sources. 

Defra has said it is essential that all bird keepers implement the highest standards of biosecurity both at the perimeter of their properties and within the premises to prevent disease being spread between different houses.

Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenza pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.

For more advice and regular updates on the latest situation, visit the Governments’ avian flu page (England).