'Beyond control' bird flu outbreak confirmed in UK – fears of more misery after Covid hell

Wildlife experts have raised concerns as further outbreaks across the country, such as one at a poultry and wild birds establishment in North Wales, are putting bird populations “under threat”.

Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, confirmed the presence of the H5N1 bird flu strain: “This is further evidence of the need for all keepers of poultry and captive birds to ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

“Public Health Wales has said the risk to the health of the public from avian influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear it does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.”

The Welsh government has imposed control zones around the site in Wrexham and an investigation is underway.

But the flu is affecting several areas across the UK.

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The confirmed spread of the bug at a rescue centre in Wychbold left staff at the village’s rescue centre “devastated”.

Wychbold Swan Rescue said in a statement: “You may have heard on the news, it has been confirmed that our beloved birds have had to be euthanised after testing positive for avian influenza.”

It was followed by more swans, ducks and geese contracting the disease on the River Avon.

Cyril Bennis, who runs Stratford-Upon-Avon Swan Rescue group, said birds are dying every day now, warning the current outbreak of avian flu, more commonly known as bird flu, is “beyond control” in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

“I have had to put two swans to sleep today, one last night, seven others have died of suspected avian flu in the last few days.

“It’s a daily occurrence.

“I really fear that the entire population, which is more than 70 swans, could be seriously under threat.”

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the flu spreads bird-to-bird through direct contact or contaminated body fluids and faeces as well as via contaminated feed and water, dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear.

Outbreaks are more frequent in winter months when birds that could carry the disease migrate from mainland Europe to the UK.

While Defra has claimed the risk for humans to be low, the virus can in certain cases also affect people, which is why the public is advised to avoid touching or picking up sick or dead birds.

Bird keepers are advised to be alert for signs of the disease.

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