AN all-Wales avian influenza prevention zone has been put into place less than a week after the Welsh Government announced it was not following England's lead.

After three separate findings in England of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 in wild birds, Defra issued a prevention zone across England.

A veterinary risk assessment for England and Wales has now shown the risk level for disease in wild birds has increased from medium to high.

The risk associated with direct and indirect transmission to poultry has also increased from low to medium.

The risk to poultry, however, is dependent on the level of biosecurity at individual sites.

Although there are currently no findings of avian flu in Wales, as a precautionary measure in response to the increased risk, an All Wales avian prevention zone will be introduced.

The prevention zone will require all keepers of poultry and other captive birds, irrespective of how they are kept, to take appropriate and practicable steps, including:

• Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources

• Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds

• Minimise movement of people in and out of bird enclosures

• Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy

• Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

Keepers with more than 500 birds will also be required to take some extra biosecurity measures, including restricting access to non-essential people, changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs Lesley Griffiths said: "It is essential we take steps to protect our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy in Wales.”

Chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop added: “All keepers of poultry must remain vigilant for signs of disease and practice the very highest levels of biosecurity.

“I strongly encourage all poultry keepers, even those with fewer than 50 birds, to provide their details to the Poultry 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.”

Avian influenza is a notifiable disease and any suspicion should be reported immediately to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Information on the requirements of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, guidance and latest developments are all available on the Welsh Government website.