Stay away warning as bird flu confirmed in Canada geese in Tipton

Bird flu has been confirmed in the Canada geese population at a popular Black Country park.

Canada geese at Victoria Park in Tipton
Canada geese at Victoria Park in Tipton

Members of the public have been urged to stay away from sick or dead birds after the case of avian influenza was confirmed in Victoria Park in Tipton.

It follows the discovery of bird flu in swans at Stubbers Green in Aldridg eand in birds at Chasewater Country Park in Staffordshire.

Around half a million birds have already been culled so far across the UK as the "largest ever" bird flu outbreak continues to grow.

The A(H5N1) strain is described by experts as being "highly pathogenic" to other birds, meaning it is an extreme contagious disease which can kill.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was declared across the UK last month with the added requirement all captive birds have to be kept indoors, amid concerns that wild birds migrating from mainland Europe during the winter are carrying the disease.

The risk to human health is considered very low but health chiefs have still urged people not to touch sick live birds or carcasses just in case.

A warning sign in Victoria Park about bird flu

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said: "Avian flu is a disease of birds and it is very unusual for humans to be affected. We are issuing this warning as a precaution because it is possible for humans to catch it through close contact with an infected bird, dead or alive.

"The main way to protect yourself from contracting avian flu is to avoid direct contact with wild birds and bird droppings or litter. So, it’s very important not to touch any sick or dead wild birds you may find. This includes touching infected birds, their droppings, eggs or bedding."

Various national agencies are involved in managing the risk to wild and pet birds in the West Midlands along with Sandwell Council.

Anyone who has been in contact with any sick or dead birds, or their droppings, is being encouraged to thoroughly wash hands in soap and water and to ensure footwear is cleaned.

They should then contact the UK Health Security Agency’s West Midlands Health Protection Team on 0344 225 3560 so that public health experts can determine if any medication or monitoring is needed.

In Sandwell specifically, people who find dead wild swans, geese, ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should report them to the council on 0121 368 1177 Option 2 Street Cleansing, Option 3 Dead Animals (Monday to Friday 8.00am to 5.30pm). People calling out of hours, should email: ancillary_support@sandwell.gov.uk

Dr James Chipwete, a disease expert with the UK Health and Security Agency based in the West Midlands, said: "As a precaution, anyone who has been in contact with the birds or droppings in an area where the infection has been confirmed, may require a course of antiviral medication and close monitoring for 10 days from last contact with infected birds."

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