THE Wales avian influenza prevention zone has been lifted after new figures showed only a low risk of the infection spreading from wild birds.

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs Lesley Griffiths confirmed that the zone would be lifted with immediate effect.

An updated veterinary risk assessment conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) which found the risk of incursion from wild birds has reduced from high to low. Similarly, the risk to poultry is also low.

The Prevention Zone was introduced on January 25 to mitigate the risk of infection following three separate findings in England of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 in wild birds.

In Wales, there has been only one finding in a wild bird this year. There have been no cases of H5N6 avian influenza in poultry in the UK this year and the poultry sector retains its OIE disease free status.

Mrs Griffiths said: Whilethis is welcome news it is important to remember avian influenza remains a constant and real threat to our poultry and other captive birds.”

Chief Veterinary officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop added: “I cannot stress enough the need for all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to remain vigilant for signs of the disease and to continue to practice the very highest levels of biosecurity.

“If anyone suspects disease they should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately. Also, we can all play a part in supporting the ongoing surveillance by reporting any findings of dead wild birds to the GB helpline.

“I would also like to remind all poultry keepers with 50 birds or more they must register their flocks on the Poultry Register and strongly encourage all poultry keepers, including those with fewer than 50 birds, to register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak, enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity and minimise the spread of infection.”

Information on the requirements of the avian influenza prevention zone, guidance and latest developments are all available on the Welsh Government website.

To report any findings of dead wild birds please contact the GB helpline on 03459 335577.