Above: Until recently, bird shows and gatherings, including the Parrot Society’s National Exhibition (pictured), were advised to comply with APHA’s 21-day declaration form in line with the General Licence


UK BIRDKEEPERS NO longer need to sign a “21-daydeclaration with regards to Newcastle Disease after the government relaxed the risk level from medium to low.

The documentation had been enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) this summer in response to an outbreak of Newcastle Disease (ND) in captive birds in Europe: Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands were affected (see News, August 15).

DEFRA had raised the risk of a ND outbreak in the UK from low to medium, meaning “outbreak likely to occur”. While shows and gatherings could still take place subject to “increased vigilance and rigid compliance with a biosecurity plan”, as an added precaution APHA advised that all exhibitors and participants must complete and sign a declaration to confirm:

a) birds at the event had not been outside of the UK within the last 21 days;

b) that none of the birds were showing any signs of, or had been in contact with birds showing any signs of, ND (see News, October 10).

But following recent news that Belgium officially regained its disease-free status (read the statement here: www.favv-afsca.be/animalhealth/newcastledisease/default.asp), Cage & Aviary Birds contacted APHA – who we were told liaise directly with birdkeeping exhibits and shows on the ND issue – to find out where UK birdkeepers and bird show organisers now stand with regards to the ND declaration. We asked whether APHA had withdrawn its requirement for the declaration and if the UK’s risk of a ND outbreak has been reduced.

On November 9, we received an email response from DEFRA’s communication officer Zermina Toghey, who offered “some background information” in response to our query.

Ms Toghey’s email read: “There is no longer a requirement to advise the organisers of poultry and captive bird gatherings to consider excluding birds that have not been resident in the UK for the last 21 days or for them to ask attendees to sign a declaration that their birds are not showing any signs consistent with either AI [avian influenza] or NDV [Newcastle Disease virus].”

A second email from Ms Toghey on November 14 read: “The risk level for ND was reduced from medium to low on 9 November”. However, DEFRA’s website only shows this information update on November 13.

DEFRA say all provisions of the General Licence remain as before.

For more news from Cage & Aviary Birds, click here.