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Official Vet: news and briefings

Avian influenza national prevention zone declared

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the whole of England to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss confirmed on 11 November 2020. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Backyard owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese are also urged to strengthen their biosecurity measures in order to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises 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.

The UK government has worked closely with Scottish and Welsh governments to introduce national prevention zones at the same time, meaning that the restrictions will be applied across the whole of Great Britain.

The introduction of the AIPZ comes after a decision to raise the risk level for avian influenza incursion in wild birds in GB from medium to high, following three unrelated confirmed reports in kept poultry and birds in England, as well as a small number of wild birds in the South West of England.

The prevention zone will be in place until further notice and will be kept under regular review as part of Defra’s work to monitor the threat of bird flu.

Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.


OV briefings

End of transition period: updates on export health certificates and new guidance published on certification of goods to EU

30 OCTOBER 2020

From January 2021, live animals, products of animal origin (POAO) and animal by-products (ABP) exported from GB to the EU will be subject to EU import controls in the same way as other non-EU sovereign states.

Under the Northern Ireland protocol, movements of these products from GB to Northern Ireland will be subject to the same SPS standards as those exported to the EU. Exporters will require an export health certificate (EHC) for EU trade as well as for movements of certain products to Northern Ireland. EHCs are evidence that a consignment meets EU import health requirements. Businesses will be unable to trade with the EU without them. EHCs used to move POAO to NI will use the same content as an EU EHC. Exporters will need to use EHC Online when exporting their goods to the EU or moving them to NI from 1 January 2020.

Defra has developed a range of guidance to support OVs undertaking export health certification. More information about the updates and guidance can be found in the full briefing note.

An update on the CPD requirement for the Official Controls Qualification (Veterinary) (OCQ(V)) revalidation courses

11 NOVEMBER 2020

As part of the OCQ(V) review carried out in 2018, it was agreed that OVs would need to complete 10 hours of relevant continuing professional development (CPD) during a standardised four year revalidation interval for each OCQ(V) revalidation course.

As part of the review it was also agreed that all the OCQ(V) courses would be reviewed and that there would no longer be a requirement for OCQ(V) – Essential Skills (ES) and OCQ(V) – Exports General (EX) to be revalidated separately as prerequisites for other OCQ(V) courses. ES and EX content would instead be incorporated into other revalidation courses where appropriate, and the CPD allowance for each revalidation course amended accordingly.

Following a recent review, it has been agreed that there is no longer a requirement for OVs to complete additional CPD over and above completion of the Official Controls Qualification (Veterinary) (OCQ(V)) revalidation courses themselves. The courses have always counted towards the CPD requirement and the content of the revised courses alone is now considered to meet the CPD requirement. Therefore, the need to provide a CPD record has been removed from all OCQ(V) revalidation courses with immediate effect.

Further information can be found in the full briefing note.