Public urged not to touch sick or dead wild birds – as avian influenza confirmed by Defra in Dudley
Wednesday 19 October 2022
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has now confirmed there is avian influenza A(H5N1) in wild bird populations in the Dudley borough area.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is urging people in Dudley borough not to touch any sick or dead wild birds in the borough – with die off in wildfowl including Canada geese and swans in a number of locations including Mary Stevens Park, Withymoor, King George VI Park Kingswinford, and Himley Hall.
The A(H5N1) strain is now the most common strain of bird flu in this country and is highly pathogenic to other birds. While the risk to human health is considered very low, it is vital that people do not touch sick live birds or bird carcasses, and infection control measures may be necessary if they do.
Kate James, UKHSA West Midlands Lead Health Protection Practitioner specialising in avian influenza, said:
The risk to the public from this strain of avian flu is very low, however it is possible for humans to catch the virus, so it is vital that people do not touch any sick or dead birds; or have contact with their droppings, eggs or bedding. As a precaution, anyone who has not worn appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) while in contact with a sick or dying bird and its bedding, in an area where the infection has been confirmed, will require close monitoring and follow up with UKHSA.
Councillor Ian Bevan, cabinet member for public health at Dudley Council, said:
We have been liaising with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) West Midlands over the last couple of weeks, for guidance and support. As a precaution, we made the decision to close areas of Mary Stevens Park and the pool at Himley Hall & Park until we knew more. Now avian influenza has been confirmed in the borough, and the strain we are dealing with is low risk to human health, we have revised our restrictions and will reopen areas that had been closed. However we will continue to review the situation. I urge members of the public to follow the guidance and not touch or let pets near to sick or dead birds.
Reporting sick or dead birds in Dudley
- If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to Dudley Council Plus on 0300 555 2345.
- Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. If you have found a sick or injured bird, contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. Do not touch the bird.
Outside the Dudley area
In areas where the infection has been confirmed or is suspected, anyone who has been in contact with sick or dead birds or their droppings, while not wearing the correct PPE, should make sure any footwear is properly cleaned and thoroughly wash their hands in soap and water. They should then notify the UK Health Security Agency’s West Midlands Health Protection Team on 0344 225 3560 so that public health experts can determine if antiviral medication and active surveillance of their condition is necessary. If someone handled infected birds while wearing adequate PPE, they must still undergo active surveillance.
Following an increase in the number of detections of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds and on commercial premises, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain, to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.
Anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds should also take extra precautions including keeping their birds indoors or taking appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. The RSPCA has provided a simple guide to help backyard flock keepers to protect their birds from bird flu. It is important to be vigilant for any signs of disease, if you are concerned about your birds’ health or suspect Avian Influenza, please contact your vet immediately.