How to spot bird flu symptoms amidst the UK’s biggest outbreak

November 2, 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.

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 England, Scotland, 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 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.




Strictly Necessary

These cookies are required for our website to operate and include items such as whether or not to display this pop-up box or your session when logging in to the website. These cookies cannot be disabled.


We use 3rd party services such as Google Analytics to measure the performance of our website. This helps us tailor the site content to our visitors needs.


From time to time, we may use cookies to store key pieces of information to make our site easier for you to use. Examples of this are remembering selected form options to speed up future uses of them. These cookies are not necessary for the site to work, but may enhance the browsing experience.


We may use advertising services that include tracking beacons to allow us to target our visitors with specific adverts on other platforms such as search or social media. These cookies are not required but may improve the services we offer and promote.

Change Settings

Welcome. You can control how we use cookies and 3rd party services below

Change Settings Accept
Learn how we use cookies
Call 24/7 Emergencies Message us