BIRD keepers in Herefordshire are being told to keep their birds indoors amid fears a bird flu outbreak could spread.

As of Monday, November 29, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of the disease, Herefordshire Council said.

These additional measures add to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that came into force across England earlier this month after a number of confirmed cases among wild and commercial birds.

Bir flu circulates naturally in wild birds, when they migrate to the UK from mainland Europe. Over winter they can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.

The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) means that bird keepers across the country must house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds.

Keepers are asked to cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing

The movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept should be reduced to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control.

Bird keepers must thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis.

Direct and indirect contact between poultry, captive birds and wild birds should be minimised. Feed and water should be made inaccessible to wild birds.

Councillor Ange Tyler, cabinet member for housing, regulatory services and community safety asked bird keepers to follow the national guidance.

“Keep your birds inside and to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds,” she said.

Coun Tyler said the AIPZ will be kept under regular review in order to monitor the threat of bird flu.

Keepers should report any suspicion of disease to Animal and Plant Health Agency on: 03000 200 301.