Avian influenza (bird flu)

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease.

If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

Failure to do so is an offence.

Low risk to public health

The UK Health Security Agency continue to advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low.

The Food Standards Agency advice remains unchanged, that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Information on confirmed Bird flu outbreak near Elham, Kent - 20 July 2023

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in a commercial poultry flock on 20 July 2023 near Elham, Kent. The following disease control zones are in place around the premises:

3 km Protection Zone
10 km Surveillance Zone

All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.

For further information on the control measures that have been put in place plus a map showing you where the 3km Protection and 10km Surveillance Zones are, please visit GOV.UK.

Registering flocks

Flocks of 50 or more birds must be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

While flocks of under 50 do not, you can voluntarily register them even if they are pets. The advantage of doing so is the Animal and Plant Health Agency will notify keepers of outbreaks of disease in their area such as Avian Flu.

More information

Kent County Council has published a webpage which includes advice and links to other guidance and checklists for bird keepers.

What to do if you find a dead bird

Reporting dead birds

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Report to the Defra helpline by calling 0345 9335 577, or online via the dead bird reporting tool, if you find:

  • One or more dead bird of prey, gull, swan, goose or duck in same place.
  • Five or more dead birds of any species.

For further information on the latest situation and current requirements see Defra's advice to the public.

Disposal of dead wild birds on public land

Where dead birds are on public land it is the council's responsibility to safely dispose of the carcases as animal by-products. You can report a dead bird on public land here.

Disposal of dead wild garden birds found at domestic premises

After contacting the Defra Helpline (03459 33 55 77) to report the dead wild birds, if the birds are not required for surveillance purposes, Defra advises that members of the public should follow the advice below for the disposal of dead garden birds.

Disposal in household waste refuse

If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling dead wild birds (if disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove).

When the dead wild bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste (lidded bin outside)


The dead wild bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag.

The depth of the burial hole must be sufficient to prevent animals scavenging and gaining access to it - at least 60cm deep is advised. The burial location must not be near any watercourses, or likely to contaminate local water supplies.