There are several outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds and domestics flocks across the UK at present.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the health of the public is very low.
However, there are some steps you can take to prevent bird flu and to stay safe:
What to do
- do wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially before and after handling food, in particular raw poultry
- do use different utensils for cooked and raw meat
- do make sure meat is cooked until steaming hot
- do avoid contact with live birds and poultry
What not to do:
- do not go near or touch bird droppings or sick or dead birds
- do not go to live animal markets or poultry farms
- do not bring any live birds or poultry back to the UK, including feathers
- do not eat undercooked or raw poultry or duck
- do not eat raw eggs
Further information is available on the DEFRA website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bird-flu-avian-influenza-how-to-prevent-it-and-stop-it-spreading.
Reporting dead wild birds
You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:
- one or more dead bird of prey or owl
- three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
- five or more dead birds of any species
Reporting suspected bird flu in poultry or captive birds
If you suspect any type of bird flu in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.
Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.
What to do if you are a poultry keeper
All bird keepers – including those with pet birds, commercial flocks or a backyard flock – must watch closely for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity (Avian influenza (bird flu) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)). Advice should be sought from a vet if there are concerns about your birds.
Poultry should be registered with DEFRA, so owners can be contacted – and this is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.
Details on how to register can be found: Poultry (including game birds): registration rules and forms - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
The DEFRA webpages contain additional information on registering for updates.
Parks and open spaces in Stevenage
Stevenage has a number of parks and open spaces. These remain safe to use, and our council teams will be continuing to assess the situation.
We urge the public to remain vigilant and not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that are found. These must be reported as per the guidelines above.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website contains further guidance: Avian influenza (bird flu) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
The RSBP website additionally contains information on avian flu: Avian Influenza Updates - The RSPB.