Bird flu warning issued after cases found in swans at Walsall beauty spot

Cases of bird flu have been confirmed in the Black Country after a spate of mysterious bird deaths.

People have been warned not to touch any birds - dead or alive - after cases of bird flu were found. Photo: Google
People have been warned not to touch any birds - dead or alive - after cases of bird flu were found. Photo: Google

People in the region have been urged not to touch any sick or dead wild birds after cases were reported in swans at Stubbers Green in Aldridge. It follows cases being confirmed at Chasewater Country Park in Staffordshire earlier this month.

The UK Health Security Agency has advised people to avoid contact with any dead birds and council health bosses are also warning people not to feed any birds.

Stephen Gunther, Walsall Council’s director of public health said: “I want to reassure Walsall residents that the risk of them catching avian flu is very low. It is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds.

“The virus spreads by close contact with an infected bird (dead or alive). Therefore, it is vital that you do not touch any sick or dead birds you may find. This includes touching infected birds, their droppings, eggs or bedding.

The risk to human health is considered very low but the A(H5N1) strain is highly pathogenic to other birds.

Naveed Syed, consultant in communicable disease control with the UKHSA in the West Midlands. said: "As a precaution, anyone who was not wearing appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) 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.”

Walsall Council and the UKHSA is working with Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to manage the situation and protect public health and the risk to other birds, wildlife and pets.

Visitors to Chasewater Country Park have also been asked to not feed and to avoid contact with any sick or dead birds after two confirmed cases.

Bird keepers in the area have also been urged to remain vigilant and keep a look out for signs of ill health in their bird.

Victoria Wilson, cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “We have seen first-hand earlier this year the impact of an outbreak of avian influenza so it’s really important we are aware and do what we can to reduce the spread of it.

"While the risk to the public from this strain of avian flu is very low, people visiting our country parks including Chasewater should follow any local guidance.

People should not touch or try to rescue injured birds as they could be infected. Anyone spotting injured or dead birds should report them to the Defra helpline.”

Any dead birds spotted in the Walsall area should be reported to the Walsall Council on 01922 65 00 00.

Cases at Chasewater should be reported to park rangers or to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.

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