RESIDENTS have been urged not to touch sick or dead wild birds after cases of Avian Flu were confirmed in Coventry.
The Canada goose population in Swanswell Park is affected by the disease and samples of dead birds have been collected by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and sent to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) national laboratory, to testing.
Coventry City Council and the UKHSA are working with 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.
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.
Dr Nic Coetzee, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control with the UKHSA 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.”
Droppings, eggs and bedding must also not be trust.
As a precaution, anyone who has been in contact with birds or droppings in an area where the infection has been confirmed may need antiviral medication and close monitoring for ten days after contact.
Valerie De Souza, Acting Director of Public Health at Coventry City Council, added: “People do not need to be alarmed by this development, but we are urging people to be sensible and cautious.
“The risk to humans is very low as bird flu does not infect people easily but it is important that people minimise any risk by following advice by not touching wild birds, their dropping or their bedding.”
If you have found and touched a sick or dead bird
In areas where the infection has been confirmed or is suspected, anyone who has been in contact with sick or dead birds or their droppings should make sure any footwear is properly cleaned and thoroughly wash their hands in soap and water.
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 antiviral medication and active surveillance of their condition is necessary.
Reporting sick or dead birds in Coventry
Anyone who finds dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should report them to DEFRA by visiting www.gov.uk/defra or calling 03459 33 55 77.
For disposal phone: 02476 832222
People should not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds they find. Those finding sick or injured birds should contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. Do not touch the bird.
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