The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has announced that the UK is now officially free from avian flu.

According to rules laid down by the OIE, it requires a three-month interval between the final cleaning and disinfection of premises involved in the outbreak, along with official recognition of freedom from the disease.

Because of avian flu outbreaks during 2007 and 2008, the UK has been unable to export poultrymeat and poultry products to most of its traditional third country markets, over the past 12 months.

But the UK’s status is once again free from avian flu and in line with OIE rules, this will greatly assist negotiations by DEFRA and industry partners to regain access to these markets.

Trade with other EU countries resumed on 8 July this year, under separate EU rules, on avian flu.

The last UK outbreak was on a free-range unit near Banbury Oxfordshire in June 2008 and involved the highly pathogenic H7N7 virus.