There have been a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza throughout autumn and winter so far. There have been cases in captive and wild birds in all four countries of the UK.
The vast majority of these cases are of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza.
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 saliva, nasal secretions or faeces. Wild birds including waterfowl are often more resistant to avian influenza than domestic birds, and can carry and transmit the virus without showing evidence of disease. This has often led to speculation that wild birds are the primary source of avian influenza spread. However, there are several ways by which avian influenza might be transmitted, and globally the most important of these has been the unrestricted movement of poultry and poultry products.
Although the risk of contracting the disease from a wild bird is very low, you are advised not to touch any sick or dead birds, their droppings, or any water nearby. It is extremely unlikely that avian influenza could be transmitted to people by feeding birds in the garden, but good hygiene at bird feeding stations is always sensible.
As a precaution, members of the public are asked to report cases of dead wild waterfowl - such as swans, geese and ducks - or gulls, or five or more dead birds of other species to Defra. (Tel: 03459 33 55 77).
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