British farmers have been told to keep their poultry inside to protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe.
The Government’s chief vet Nigel Gibbens has ordered all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors for the next 30 days due to the threat.
It is feared that infected wild birds could fly over from the Continent, bringing the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) strain.
As outbreaks continue in Europe, this map shows the all 14 countries where the H5N8 strain has been found in dead wild birds over the past month.
Since November 3, cases have been confirmed in France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Croatia, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Ukraine and Russian.
The series of outbreaks have affected farm birds as well as wild waterfowl such as tufted ducks, common pochards, gulls, wild geese and wild swans.
No cases of avian flu have been found in the UK yet and Public Health England says the threat to human health remains “very low”.
But Mr Gibbens warned: “We are closely monitoring the situation across Europe and have scaled up surveillance in response to the heightened risk.
“As a precaution, and to allow time for poultry and captive bird keepers to put in place appropriate biosecurity measures, we have declared a 30-day Prevention Zone to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.
“Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity – for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds.”
If bird flu is detected at a farm then the whole flock must be culled in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
There are currently no plans to impose a Prevention Zone in Northern Ireland but it is in place across Wales, Scotland and England.
Some 190,000 ducks were destroyed on a single day last month at six farms in the Netherlands to stop the spread of bird flu.
Duck culls have also been carried out in France, while German authorities have decided to kill 92,000 chickens and 16,000 turkeys.