Rise in bird flu cases sparks warning - The Evesham Observer

Rise in bird flu cases sparks warning

Evesham Editorial 18th Dec, 2020   0

A WARNING has been issued not to touch sick or dead birds after suspected cases of bird flu in Evesham and neighbouring Warwickshire.

Cases of avian influenza were recently confirmed in swans in Evesham, and in Stratford it was reported the bodies of two swans retrieved from River Avon for analysis, had died of the condition.

Cases have also been reported across the country and closer to home have been confirmed in Herefordshire and are understood to be in Worcester and Shropshire.

Public Health England and local council bosses are urging residents and members of wildlife organisations not to touch sick or dead wild birds.

With infection numbers on the rise, Defra has declared the country as an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone to prevent the disease spreading to poultry and captive birds. This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures and for all poultry and captive birds to be housed.

The strain can spread to other birds, but there have been no human cases of infection reported.

While the risk to human health is considered very low, health bosses say it is vital people do not touch sick live birds or bird carcasses.

Public health England regional disease control spokesman Dr James Chipwete said: “During the last week there have been confirmed cases of avian influenza in swans in Evesham, and we are receiving an increasing number of reports of sick and dead swans in Worcester. We are awaiting results of investigations currently being undertaken.

“We know that people are concerned for the welfare of the swans, especially ensuring they are fed in these colder months, however it is important that people avoid contact with these sick or dead birds. Even though no cases of human infection have been associated with this strain of avian flu, as a precaution, anyone who was not wearing appropriate PPE while in contact with the droppings or birds in an area where the infection has been confirmed, will require close monitoring and a course of antiviral medication for 10 days from last contact with infected birds.

“We have seen a number of avian flu cases in poultry and captive birds across the country – with confirmed cases in Herefordshire last month, and suspected cases now in Warwickshire.

“People must avoid touching potentially infected birds at all costs, and if you do see any sick or dead birds by waterways or on your private land, please leave them and call the Defra helpline. In areas where the infection has been confirmed, 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 Public Health England’s Health Protection Team to arrange for antiviral medication and active surveillance of their condition. If someone handled infected birds while wearing adequate PPE, they must still undergo surveillance.”

Call Defra on 03459 335577 or ring 0344 225 3560 to speak to Public Health England’s Health Protection Team.

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