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Take action now to prepare for winter avian flu
Image: Turkey
All keepers can take a few simple steps to reduce the risk of disease before the autumn migration

UK poultry keepers are being urged to remain vigilant to the threat of bird flu

The chief veterinary officers of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK have issued a call for poultry keepers to take action now to reduce the risk of avian flu infecting their flocks and the wider poultry industry this winter.
All keepers – whether they run a large commercial farm or keep just a few pet chickens in their back garden – can get ahead of the game and take the following simple steps to reduce the risk of disease before autumn migration of ducks and geese begins again this winter:

  • Keep the area where birds live clean and tidy, control rats and mice and regularly disinfect any hard surfaces. Clean footwear before and after visits
  • Place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly
  • Put fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl
  • In Great Britain, stay alert by signing up online to a free service to receive text or e-mail alerts on any outbreaks of bird flu in the UK. You can also quickly and easily register your flock online
  • In Northern Ireland, visit the DAERA website for further information.
Last winter, the H5N8 strain of bird flu was found in 13 kept flocks in the UK – ranging in size from as few as nine to as many as 65,000 birds. There has been a decline in the number of new cases over the summer, but the disease is still circulating in kept poultry across Europe, with Italy the most recent country to suffer a series of outbreaks. It has also recently been confirmed in a dead mute swan in Norfolk.
The Government is working with groups including NFUs in England and Scotland, the UFU, RSPCA, British Hen Welfare Trust and Poultry Club of Great Britain to highlight the importance of keeping up high biosecurity even though the immediate disease risk has dropped.
Together, the groups are also keen to highlight the impact of bird flu on the poultry industry – a case in a backyard flock leads to the same trade restrictions in an area as an outbreak on a commercial farm, so protecting chickens in a back garden from the disease also protects farmers locally and nationally.
Given the recent outbreaks in wild birds in Norfolk and on the continent, there is every likelihood that the disease will return this winter. Last year’s outbreak is believed to have been transmitted via migratory wild birds, which means keepers need to be aware of the danger of contact between wild and kept birds and take action now.
All keepers in Great Britain can stay up to date with the latest situation by signing up for the Animal and Plant Health Agency alerts service.


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Do you know a practice wellbeing star?

News Story 1
 Has someone in your practice team gone above and beyond to make your workplace a positive one during the coronavirus pandemic? Then why not nominate them for a 2020 Practice Wellbeing Star!

The joint RCVS Mind Matters Initiative/SPVS Practice Wellbeing Star nominations recognise individuals who have held up morale during a time when practices are facing unprecedented staffing and financial issues.

Nominees receive a certificate in recognition of their colleagues' appreciation of their achievements and will be entered into the prize draw for a pair of tickets to attend the joint SPVS and Veterinary Management Group Congress in January 2021.


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WellVet reopens ticket sales to online conference platform

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The day-long conference saw more than 360 veterinary professionals mix activity sessions with personal development CPD, all hosted within a virtual conference platform. Now, with more than 500 minutes of CPD available, the resource is being re-opened to allow full access to the session recordings until May 2021.

Sessions are aimed at providing delegates with a range of proactive wellbeing tools to explore to find ways of improving their mental and physical health. Tickets are limited in number and on sale at until 30th August 2020.