Further Wild Birds Found Dead from Avian Flu Across UK

UK - Two wild birds in England have tested positive for the H5N8 strain of avian influenza, as well as one wild bird in Scotland, the Chief Veterinary Officers confirmed on 23 December.
calendar icon 3 January 2017
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The two confirmed findings in dead wild wigeons from Somerset and Leicestershire followed confirmation of H5N8 in a dead wild peregrine falcon in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, and the finding of the same strain in a dead wild wigeon in Wales the previous day.

This is the same strain which has been circulating in mainland Europe and which was found at a poultry farm in Lincolnshire last week, although there is no suggestion the disease has spread from that farm.

Scotland's announcement said there is strong evidence from Europe that disease is getting into housed poultry. Producers are reminded to comply with the order to house birds or ensure they are kept separate from wild birds and follow excellent biosecurity procedures. A temporary ban on poultry gatherings is also in place.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: "Today’s confirmed findings mean that avian flu has now been found in wild birds in widely separated parts of England, Wales and Scotland.

"This is far from unexpected and reflects our risk assessments and the measures we have taken including introducing a housing order for poultry and a ban on gatherings. We’ll continue to work with ornithological groups to further strengthen surveillance and our understanding of the extent of infection in wild birds.

"The risk to kept birds cannot be eliminated by housing alone. This virus can be carried into buildings on people and things to infect birds. Good biosecurity measures are essential. We also need people to continue to report findings of dead wild birds so that we can investigate."

The advice from Public Health England (PHE) remains that the risk to public health from the virus is very low. Advice regarding contact with wild birds remains the same; to make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap after coming into contact with any animal and to not touch any sick or dead birds.

The Food Standards Agency has made it clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

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