Fewer bird flu cases this winter so far

There have been far fewer outbreaks of avian influenza in UK poultry units so far this winter, the latest data from the UK government confirms.

Since October 2023, there have been three cases of highly pathogenic bird flu in England, two in Scotland and no outbreaks have occurred in either NI or Wales. Similarly, no cases have occurred in the Republic of Ireland.

The last case in the UK was on 29 November when the H5N1 strain of the virus was confirmed in a poultry unit near Cranbrook, east Devon.

The current figures are much lower compared to the last two winters. Since October 2021, there have been 297 cases in England, 51 in Scotland, 15 in Wales and seven cases in NI.

Scientists were cautiously optimistic that fewer outbreaks would occur this winter, given that levels of the virus found among wild birds last summer were much lower than previous years.

The lower threat has meant compulsory housing orders for free range birds have not yet been implemented this winter. In the previous two years, housing orders were in place in NI from late November.

However, the advice from all devolved governments is that poultry keepers should continue to always practice good biosecurity to help protect flocks from avian influenza and other diseases.

No Bluetongue cases in Britain since Christmas

There have been no new cases of Bluetongue found in Britain since before Christmas, according to the latest updates from the UK government.

The last case was on 24 December when a cow tested positive for the viral disease as part of a surveillance programme in the north-east Kent temporary control zone.

In a statement, the UK government said the latest incident brings the total number of cases in England to 35 infected animals on 18 premises.

“There is still no evidence that bluetongue virus is currently circulating in midges,” the statement reads.