Read more about bird flu (avian influenza)
We have been informed that highly pathonegic avian influenza H5N8 has been recorded in a small number of wildfowl on RSPB reserves at Frampton and Marshside. The virus was detected in birds found dead on site as a result of the vigilance of reserve staff and visitors. This finding is not unexpected as the disease has already been found in wild birds across Europe, including cases in England, Scotland and Wales earlier this month.
Following advice from Public Health England we will not initially be closing the reserves. Signage at the affected sites provides guidance to visitors, emphasising the importance of hygiene. Visitors should take care to avoid physical contact with dead or sick birds, which should be reported to site staff or directly to the Defra hotline (details below). RSPB staff and volunteers across our entire reserves network will continue to be vigilant for dead or sick birds and will report these to Defra as required.
There is no record of this strain of bird flu ever being transferred to people and the risk to humans is low. Defra have assessed that the risk to poultry remains at low to medium, and will vary according to the level of biosecurity on site.
Members of the public are encouraged to report any 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.
More information about the latest situation on bird flu in the UK and advice on reducing risks can be found on the Defra website here:
Defra have confirmed that a wild wigeon found dead in Carmarthenshire in Wales has tested positive for Avian Influenza H5N8, the same strain of the disease confirmed at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire last week. This is the first time a wild bird has tested positive for avian influenza in the UK this winter.
This follows the introduction of a Prevention Zone across Great Britain earlier this month requiring all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors, or if impracticable, to take appropriate steps to minimise contact with wild birds.
Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild swans, geese, ducks or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.
We will continue to update this blog with new information when available.
H5N8, the strain of avian influenza currently spreading across Europe, was confirmed on a turkey farm in Lincolnshire last Friday. Defra immediately put in place a 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone around the outbreak site, restricting all movements of poultry, captive birds or mammals in order to limit the risk of the virus from spreading, and all turkeys on the farm have since been humanely culled. These measures have been successfully used during previous UK outbreaks, including the most recent case on a poultry farm in Dunfermline in January 2016, when the virus was contained to a single farm and eradicated very quickly.
Defra are continuing to investigate the origin of the outbreak and at the present time the role of wild birds remains unknown. However biosecurity best practice on poultry farms remains the most effective way of preventing spread, and the GB-wide prevention zone requiring poultry keepers to house their birds wherever practicable, remains.
Defra have enhanced their surveillance of wild birds, and members of the public are being asked to report any cases of dead swans, geese, ducks or gulls, or five or more dead birds of other species, to the Defra hotline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77). Reports considered high risk will be collected by Defra for testing. To-date no wild birds have tested positive for avian influenza in the UK this winter. We will update this blog with new information as and when it becomes available.