Right now, the UK is experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of Avian Flu and we urgently need your help... bit.ly/3e7VbB3
The current outbreak of avian influenza is the largest ever in the UK which is adding yet more pressure to our already beleaguered wild bird populations. As of Thursday 16 December, there were 60 confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in premises across the UK. In wild birds the high numbers of dead and sick birds being seen, is generating growing concern among conservationists and nature lovers. The wild bird species involved are mostly wild geese, ducks and swans, but there have also been confirmed cases in birds of prey, owls and curlew.
Of note is the situation on the Solway where ornithologists estimate 3,000-4,000 barnacle geese have died from AI. This is significant as it represents around 10% of the population of Svalbard barnacle geese that overwinter on the Solway.
Full information regarding the current situation in each of the four countries, including advice for poultry keepers, can be found here:
Northern Ireland: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai
Birds can be infected with the avian influenza virus through contact with infected individual birds or waste products. Wild birds including waterfowl can carry and transmit the virus without showing evidence of disease. Movements of poultry around and between countries, and the migrations of wild birds, are both known vectors of the virus. The RSPB is taking this outbreak very seriously and we are following the government guidance on our reserves and implementing biosecurity measures where needed.
Although the risk of contracting the disease from a wild bird is very low, we recommend that people do not handle sick or dead wild birds, remain vigilant, and report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), gulls or birds of prey to the government helplines. Everyone, at all times but especially now, should take care to maintain good hygiene when feeding garden birds – regularly cleaning feeders outside with mild disinfectant, removing old bird-food, spacing-out feeders as much as possible and washing your hands.
If you come across any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), gulls or birds of prey these should be reported the DEFRA helpline (03459 33 55 77). See DEFRA’s website here for more details https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu
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