WEYBRIDGE, ENGLAND — The United Kingdom’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, has issued mandatory housing measures for all birds in the nation beginning Nov. 7.

The order is an extension of housing measures in parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex to the entire country due to an increase in highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) among wild birds. British bird keepers will legally be responsible for housing their birds indoors and for following biosecurity regulations.

“Scrupulous biosecurity and separating flocks in all ways, from wild birds remain the best form of defense,” Middlemiss said. “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday 7 November onwards you must keep your birds indoors. This decision has not been taken lightly but is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

The United Kingdom faced its largest outbreak of HPAI over the past year, with over 200 confirmed cases across more than 70 properties since October 2021.

“We are now facing this year, the largest ever outbreak of bird flu and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England,” Middlemiss said. “The risk of kept birds being exposed to disease has reached a point where it is now necessary for all birds to be housed until further notice.”

Middlemiss added that bird keepers should use the week prior to the mandate to take steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their private vet and expand housing if necessary.