IRDC logo

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

In the United Kingdom, there have been 207 confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in the 12 month period between 1st October 2022 – 30th September 2023.

  • 160 cases in England
  • 38 cases in Scotland
  • 8 cases in Wales
  • 1 case in Northern Ireland

This is an unprecedented situation, as is the current spread of H5N1 in sea bird populations around the globe. The impact of this commercial poultry virus on wildlife is extreme.

Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza is endemic in wild birds and they have lived with it for centuries. However, in expanding the intensive poultry industry, especially since the 1990s, we have produced the ideal conditions for the virus to create new, highly pathogenic forms. High Pathogenic Avian Influenza is then passed back to infect the wild bird population. As a result, HPAI is now travelling around the globe. External link image

Virologists were warning of this situation in the late 1900s/early 2000s. They were also concerned of the potential of the virus to produce influenza mutations which are more easily transmissible to mammals.

So, which makes more sense?

  • To develop vaccines to 'control' the flu?
  • or control the flu factories - the battery and broiler sheds?
  • or should we reduce those in number and farm sustainably instead?
These suggestions were in the broadcast External link image

The recent publication by United Nations FAO also points out the same ideas. More details are on the link at External link image

Updates on the bird flu situation are also available on the IRDC page at External link image and the APHA page External link image.

For the latest situation in England please access the Bird flu H5N1 (avian influenza) APHA Information Page: External link image

For the latest situation in Wales please access the Bird flu H5N1 (avian influenza) Welsh Government Information Page: External link image

For the latest situation in Scotland please access the Bird flu H5N1 (avian influenza) APHA Information Page: External link image

For the latest situation in Northern Ireland please access the Bird flu H5N1 (avian influenza) DAERA Information Page: External link image

Outbreaks of H5N8 in Europe - 2016-2017

H5N8 has replaced H5N1 as the problem bird flu virus in Europe this winter. The H5N8 strain of bird flu first appeared in South Korea in early 2014. The virus later spread to Japan, North America and Europe in 2015.

The virus continued to move across Europe and by November 2016, 190,000 ducks were culled inthe Netherlands.Following the discovery of cases in wild birds in northern France and further outbreaks across Europe, the disease has been linked to migratory birds. Cases were discovered in gulls in Pas-de-Calais and Haute-Savoie.

The 2016 European situation led to the UK Chief Vet declaring a 'Prevention Zone' (from December 6, 2016) with enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds. Since then, there has been an outbreak in turkeys at Louth Linconshire, and incidences in wild birds in South Wales (22 Dec) and in Somerset and Leicestershire. A case in wild wigeon was also reported in Northern Ireland (31.12.16).

Up-to date information on bird flu within Europe can be found on the European Union website: External link image

Page last updated: 30th October 2023