H5N6 avian influenza found in Wales


Bird keepers and vets have been warned to be on the alert after the Welsh Government reported a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 virus in a dead wild buzzard.

First finding of highly pathogenic flu strain in country this year prompts warning for vigilance among bird keepers and vets.
This is the same strain of the virus found in wild birds in England over recent weeks and the first finding in Wales this year.

Vale of Glamorgan

The bird was found dead in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, and submitted as part of a regular batch by an NGO for testing as part of wild bird surveillance.
The H5N6 finding follows the introduction of a prevention zone in Wales on 25 January, which requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to take appropriate and practicable steps to prevent the spread of the disease.

No risk increase

Veterinary risk is not considered to have increased for either wild birds or poultry/captive birds in Wales as a result of this finding. The existing enhanced biosecurity requirements remain in force, and are considered the appropriate and proportionate response.
The Welsh Government’s cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “This finding is not unexpected at this time of year and there is a constant risk of the disease at this time.”

Movement minimised

Ms Griffiths added: “The main source of infection to captive birds is wild waterfowl, and biosecurity measures must address both direct and indirect spread of infection to areas where domestic birds are kept.
“Birds of prey, such as buzzards, are probably infected by eating affected waterfowl and are unlikely to play a role in transmission.
“The movement of poultry should be minimised, and clothing and equipment should always be cleansed and disinfected before and after their use.”