Garston Vets advise on bird flu symptoms

October 11, 2022

The UK’s bird population is experiencing its biggest ever outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu), with cases found in wild and captive birds. 47.7m birds have been culled since September 2021, with more than 150 cases confirmed since late October 2021. Our Head Farm Vet summarises the latest protection measures and shares the bird flu symptoms to look out for.

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Chief Veterinary Officers for Scotland, England, and Wales have brought in measures to help protect poultry and captive birds against bird flu:


  1. Avian Influenza Prevention Zones (AIPZ) are still in place in EnglandScotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Bird gatherings, markets, and shows are not permitted in an AIPZ.
  2. Housing measures stipulate that all bird keepers are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions, and birds must be housed indoors (except in very specific circumstances) or kept separate from wild birds.
  3. Poultry keepers and pet owners of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, quail, partridges, pheasants and pigeons, should register their birds (50+ is a legal requirement) so they can be notified of a local outbreak. Signs of bird flu must be reported asap. How to register and report

Signs & symptoms of bird flu: Type 1 – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Clinical signs can vary between bird species and include:


  • Swollen head
  • Blue discolouration of neck & throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Respiratory distress (gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fewer eggs laid
  • Increased mortality


Type 2 – Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) can cause mild breathing problems but affected birds won’t always show clear signs of infection. If you notice any potential bird flu symptoms, you can ask one of our Farm vets for advice. Ask us about bird flu symptoms


Bird flu can also affect humans and other mammals through close contact with infected birds or their droppings, but not by eating fully cooked chicken and other poultry products. It’s important to remember that the risk to humans is low.