WARRINGTON Borough Council is warning people who keep birds to keep them indoors and follow strict safety rules.

This follows a number of new cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in the UK.

The Government has put biosecurity measures in place following the emergence of bird flu cases in both wild and captive birds.

Bird keepers should take steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and where necessary put up additional indoor housing.

All poultry and captive bird keepers need to take extra precautions, such as keeping birds indoors, cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles, limiting access to non-essential people on their sites and ensuring workers change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures.

Official advice states that the risk to human health from the virus is very low.

The Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.

Cllr Judith Guthrie, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “While avian flu poses a low risk to people, it is a highly infectious disease with can be lethal for birds.

“It is vital that all those who keep birds follow the health advice and put measures in place to help limit the spread of the disease.”

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In a joint statement, Great Britain’s three chief veterinary officers said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and have introduced a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to keep your birds indoors or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7)

Keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.