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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-09121: Emma Harper (South Scotland)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 2 May 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what the current situation is with regard to the risk of an incursion of avian flu to Scottish poultry.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 3 May 2017

The risk of incursion of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 into poultry or captive birds in Scotland, either from non-migratory wild birds or contaminated environment was assessed by experts on 18 April, as being “LOW” (reduced from “MEDIUM”). This means “rare but could occur” and falls within the parameters of what we consider to be “typical” of the disease risk from AI in Scotland, year-round. 

Wild bird surveillance in Scotland shows that since 1 December 2016, 51 birds were tested in Scotland and only one tested positive (on 23 Dec 2016) for HPAI H5N8. Furthermore, all suspect notifiable disease investigations in domestic flocks, reported over the same time period, were negated. 

Based on the information above and in consultation with ornithological experts and vets, Scottish Ministers took the decision not to renew the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone when it expired on 30 April 2017.

Of course, it is essential that bird keepers maintain effective biosecurity throughout the year, and not just when a prevention zone is in place. Any businesses with existing contingency plans should also consider reviewing them, given the new perspective this season’s outbreaks of H5N8 has provided.