Recent cases of avian influenza in wild birds in Germany and the likely migration routes to the UK have led the Government to raise the risk level for a case in wild birds from low to medium.
The risk for poultry remains low for the introduction of infection onto individual premises but will depend on levels of biosecurity which the Government recommends should be increased, particularly for seasonal fattening poultry farms.
And it warned that the risk level for poultry may well increase in the coming weeks.
In its latest outbreak assessment, authors Dr Helen Roberts, Professor Ian Brown and Dr Sharon Brookes said that since the last report at the end of September, cases of H5N8 HPAI had continued in a number of European countries.
Italy has reported 17 more cases of the virus, with fattening turkeys, layers and smallholdings affected. One of the reported outbreaks was in one of the largest layer farms in Italy and more than 850,000 birds had to be destroyed.
Germany has reported a finding in wild duck near the Dutch border and that tests on a mute swan was different from others in the region, but show high similarities to others across Europe.
Bulgaria has reported two outbreaks of H5N8 in poultry – one in a commercial duck unit of 10,000 birds – and the second in a backyard flock.
Commenting on the UK position and the wild bird migration season, the authors said the findings of new incursions in wild birds in Central Europe mirrored what occurred this time last year, although there was uncertainty around whether we will see a similar situation developing.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched a new text alert service to inform bird keepers of any disease outbreaks.