Areas of south Dorset have been declared a Prevention Zone and requirements have been imposed on all bird keepers after bird flu has been found in 17 wild birds in that area. More are expected to be confirmed over the coming days.

The districts covered by the Prevention Zone are in the Weymouth and Portland areas.

From 12 January 2018, a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in specific, targeted areas of South Dorset. All keepers in this Prevention Zone must follow the government's detailed requirements on strict biosecurity.

UK chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.

"As the virus has been circulating across Europe, this finding has not come as a surprise. But it is vital that anyone who keeps birds - whether a few in a back garden or thousands on a farm - is vigilant for any signs of disease, reports suspect disease to APHA and maintains good biosecurity to reduce the risk of their birds becoming infected."

Anyone who keeps poultry within this new Prevention Zone is required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

The requirements apply to all keepers of birds, regardless of flock size or if your birds are pets.

Keepers within the Prevention Zone can allow birds outdoors into fenced areas provided the areas meet certain conditions including:

- you have made the areas unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources

- you have taken action to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

- you have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them

If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear.

Outside this area, in the rest of England, keepers are not legally required to apply extra biosecurity, but they are encouraged to continue to follow Defra's best practice biosecurity advice.

Anyone who finds dead wild birds should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.


Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.

If you keep poultry, you should keep a close watch on them for signs of disease, and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your poultry, seek prompt advice from your vet.

You should register your poultry so we can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds.