Bird flu updates

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Bird flu updates

This blog will be updated with the latest news on the avian influenza (bird flu) situation.
  • Bird Flu update – 5 February 2018

    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.

     

     

  • H5N8 continues to spread

    New outbreaks of avian influenza H5N8 this week in a commercial turkey flock in Lincolnshire, and a commercial flock of farmed breeding pheasants Lancashire, suggest that that the virus is continuing to spread. There have now been a total of six outbreaks of H5N8 in captive birds in the UK this winter, three of which have been in separate turkey farms in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, although whether or not this latest case is connected to the nearby outbreak discovered 10 days ago is currently unknown.

    A prevention zone requiring anyone in charge of poultry or other captive birds to ensure that they are housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds remains in place across the whole of the UK until the end of next month, at which point the UK governments must assess whether the zone can be lifted. It is also extremely important that poultry keepers practice good biosecurity to minimise the risk of infection spreading via items such as feed, clothing or equipment.

    This year we have been informed of two more positive cases of H5N8 in wild birds on our reserves – a wigeon at Leighton Moss in Lancashire, and a buzzard - most probably having fed on infected prey - at West Sedgemoor in Somerset. This brings us up to a total of six reserves this winter, all of which remain open to visitors.

    The risk to humans is extremely low, although if you see a dead bird please avoid physical contact and report it as soon as possible. The Defra hotline (03459 33 55 77) are 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 are found in the same place. If in Northern Ireland please report sightings to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.

  • Update on H5N8

    Since I last updated this blog on 31st December we have received information about two more confirmed cases of H5N8 on RSPB reserves: a wigeon on the Exe Estuary in Devon, and a teal at Conwy in north Wales. Both birds were found dead on the reserves and were immediately reported to the Defra helpline by RSPB staff.

    As mentioned in my last update this is not unexpected as the virus is probably circulating in wild birds throughout the UK. The risk to humans remains low and we have not closed the affected sites, but reserves staff at these sites and across our whole reserves network are increasing biosecurity as needed in order to minimise virus spread, and remaining vigilant for dead or sick birds.

    If you see a dead bird please avoid physical contact. The Defra hotline (03459 33 55 77) are 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 are found in the same place. If in Northern Ireland please report sightings to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.