Birds and poultry must be kept indoors from Monday under strict new measures to control the spread of bird flu.

All keepers will be legally required to keep their birds housed or kept separate from wild birds, the Government has announced.

The move comes after a number of confirmed cases of bird flu across the UK in recent weeks.

One of the outbreaks confirmed was in Southbourne last week.

Wild birds are currently migrating to the UK from mainland Europe as they do during the winter which has raised concerns over a possible rise in avian influenza.

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Avian influenza can lead to illness in poultry and other captive birds.

What are the new bird rules?

Under the new rules set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) keepers must continue to:

  • take precautions such as regularly cleaning and disinfecting clothing, equipment and vehicles and
  • limit access to non-essential workers and visitors

Over the next five days, keepers are being urged to prepare for the new measures by consulting their vet as well as putting up extra housing where necessary.

These restrictions will be applied across all UK nations.

The UK’s four chief veterinary officers released a joint statement, writing: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday, November  29 onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

Are there bird flu cases in the UK right now?

15 cases of Bird flu have been detected in captive birds at several premises in Britain, Defra has said.

There is a very low risk to human health and food safety risk from avian influenza, according to public health advice.

The public has been advised not to touch or pick up any dead or sick birds.

This includes swans, geese, ducks, gulls or birds of prey.

Members of the public should instead report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

The new housing measures will be kept under regular review by Defra.

Across Britain, a bird flu prevention zone was declared earlier this month to stop the spread of the disease among poultry and other birds.