Rat Race for Avian Flu

Step up rodent control in fight against bird flu says national body.

As Bird Flu (Avian Influenza) restrictions are relaxed in the farmed bird sector, both the government and trade associations maintain, that bird keepers must still enact powerful measures to combat rodents, as rats and mice are cited as potential vectors in spreading the disease

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Government figures show that there have been 175 confirmed cases of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 in the UK since 1 October 2022.1 The cost of the disease has already been devastating for the industry and globally it is thought that more than 140 million farmed birds have been culled since October 2021.2

Government restrictions still require bird keepers to manage the epidemic with scrupulous biosecurity measures to prevent infection. Attention is now being turned to the role of mammals, particularly mice and rats, in the spread of the disease.Dee Ward-Thompson, Technical Manager at the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) said: ‘Rats and mice are a common pest issue for poultry farmers and bird keepers. Research indicates they may also be vectors in spreading Avian Flu, which is why we are urging bird keepers to prioritise rodent management as part of their biosecurity measures.’

The Department of the Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra) says ‘rats and mice can carry diseases on their feet and fur’ and that ‘effective pest control will prevent diseases’. Defra’s recommendations for tackling H5N1 include instructions to ‘control rats and mice with an approved rodenticide’.

At Envu we specialise in effective solutions for professional pest management that are not available to the public. These are designed to tackle infestations and minimise the risk of any contamination from rodent to bird.

With the highly infectious nature of H5N1, minimising spread is more important than ever, as Phoebe Weston, Biodiversity Reporter from The Guardian explains: ‘The R number for bird flu can be as high as 100, so one bird is infecting 100 other birds. And tests show that at 4oC this virus can last for 6 weeks in the natural environment and just a teaspoon of [infected] faeces can kill a whole shed of birds.’

With Avian Flu spill over evidenced in a range of mammal species across the globe, bird keepers, farmers and those living close to commercial and domestically kept birds, now need to activate effective pest management as part of their prevention strategy.

Envu’s pest control products can form part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach by measuring and tackling rodent infestations using rodenticides and monitoring equipment to produce targeted and effective results. Hamonix® Rodent Paste, for example, contains stop feeding technology which cuts base usage by half without compromise on results, giving efficiencies in product usage and minimising impact on the environment.  This is just one of Envu’s many tools that can help bird keepers and farmers keep abreast of rodent infestations.


1. March 2023