Following confirmation of Avian Influenza in birds at Abbotsbury in Dorset on 12 January 2018, there have now been a number of confirmed reports of bird flu in wild birds from different localities in England. Some have involved individual birds but 31 dead waterfowl tested positive for bird flu in the Dorset incident. Senior Policy Officer Robin Wynde has provided the below update.
RSPB staff have been keeping their eyes and ears open for any reports of dead birds on our nature reserves. One of the latest confirmed reports was a tufted duck that had been found dead at our Rye Meads Nature Reserve in Hertfordshire. Several other dead waterfowl from different RSPB nature reserves across the country have been tested in recent weeks but to date the only bird carrying Avian Influenza from this monitoring was this tufted duck from Rye Meads. Our Rye Meads Nature Reserve remains open.
The strain of Avian Influenza involved this winter is H5N6 and advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health is very low. However, as a basic precaution we advise people not to pick up or touch dead birds but to report them as soon as possible. The Defra hotline (03459 33 55 77) is currently requesting reports of any dead ducks, geese, swans, gulls, or birds of prey. For all other species, please only report if five or more birds are found in the same place. If in Northern Ireland please report sightings to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.
Prevention zones requiring anyone in charge of poultry or other captive birds to ensure that they are housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds were introduced across England on 18 January and throughout Wales on 25 January. It is extremely important that poultry keepers practice good biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection spreading into domestic poultry via items such as feed, clothing or equipment. So far this year the H5N6 bird flu strain has just been found in wild birds and there have been no outbreaks in captive/domestic birds.
More information on the current bird flu situation can be found on the Defra website.
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