More bird flu cases discovered at Birmingham beauty spots as strain spreads further

Bird flu has been confirmed in the Canada goose population in two popular parks in Birmingham as it continues to spread, health chiefs have said.

Canada geese have been found to be carrying the disease
Canada geese have been found to be carrying the disease

Cases of the avian influenza have already been discovered in the same population at West Park in Wolverhampton, and Tipton's Victoria Park.

Other cases have previously been discovered in swans at Stubbers Green in Aldridge, as well as at Chasewater Country Park in Burntwood, Staffordshire.

The strain has now been found at Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park and Witton Lakes, with experts urging people not to touch any sick or dead birds in the area.

The A(H5N1) strain is highly pathogenic to poultry and other birds, but the risk to human health is considered very low. However, it is vital that people do not touch sick wild birds or wild bird carcasses, and infection control measures may be necessary if they do.

Angela Cartwright, consultant in communicable disease control with the UK Health Security Agency in the West Midlands, said: “The risk to the public from this strain of avian flu is very low, this is an infectious virus which spreads among birds and it is very unusual for humans to be affected.

"However, it is possible for humans to catch the virus through close contact with an infected bird, dead or alive. Therefore, it is very important that you do not touch any sick or dead wild birds you may find. Equally, you must not touch their droppings, eggs or bedding.

"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."

Councillor John O’Shea, cabinet member for street scene and parks at Birmingham City Council, said: "This is a very serious situation, so we would urge people to follow the guidance on how to safely use our parks and open spaces.

"This will help reduce risk to both wildlife and people, including our parks staff. The council and partner agencies are working closely on the response to this outbreak, which follows others in various parts of the country – and will continue doing whatever needs to be done to address and control the situation."

People who find dead wild waterfowl – swans, geese or ducks – or other dead wild birds in Birmingham should report them to Birmingham City Council team on 0121 454 7810.

People have been called on not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds they find and instead contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

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