Dead wild birds found to have contracted avian flu

Two wild birds in England have been found to be carrying the H5N8 strain of avian flu.
Two wild birds in England have been found to be carrying the H5N8 strain of avian flu.
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Two wild birds in England have tested positive for the highly pathogenic strain of avian flu which has infected birds on the continent, in the Middle East and North Africa.

The H5N8 strain was confirmed in dead wild wigeons from Somerset and Leicestershire today as well as in a dead wild peregrine falcon in Scotland, following the same discovery in a dead wild wigeon in Wales on Thursday.

The strain had been found at a poultry farm in Lincolnshire last week, although there is no suggestion the disease has spread from that farm, the Government said.

A suspension on gatherings of some species of birds across England, Scotland and Wales is in place, while keepers of captive birds and poultry are required to house or otherwise separate their birds from contact with wild birds onto January 6.

The Government’s chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: “This is far from unexpected and reflects our risk assessments and the measures we have taken. We’ll continue to work with ornithological groups to further strengthen surveillance and our understanding of the extent of infection in wild birds.”

He added: “The risk to kept birds cannot be eliminated by housing alone. This virus can be carried into buildings on people and things to infect birds. Good biosecurity measures are essential. We also need people to continue to report findings of dead wild birds so that we can investigate.”

Public Health England said the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency said bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.