CASES of bird flu have been confirmed at a rescue centre in North Ayrshire as the disease continues to spread across the country.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been detected at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre, near Beith, with a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone now in place.

The security measures, which took effect from 7.30pm on Friday (March 18) mean movement restrictions within these zones - for example, poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure - to prevent any further spread of disease.

Advice shared by the Scottish Government said: "Vigilance by bird keepers is important and any suspicion of disease should be reported immediately to the local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office."

The Scottish Government's chief vet, Sheila Voas, urged bird owners to take extra steps to protect their animals.

Several cases have also been confirmed in Aberdeenshire, as well as in Angus and Dumfriesshire.

A Great Britain-wide prevention zone has been in place since November and includes the requirement to house birds within the protection zones to prevent the spread of the disease.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza is said to present suddenly, often with very high mortality, with affected birds developing swollen heads, a blue colouration of the comb and wattles, dullness, lack of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and significant drop in egg production.

However, there can be considerable variation in the clinical picture and severity of the disease.

If you are suspicious your flock has any form of avian influenza you must contact your local animal health office immediately.

You can report suspected cases by contacting the field service office in Ayr on 03000 600703 or by emailing