Does Bird Flu pose a threat to humans? Newcastle warned to take measures after outbreak

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Bird Flu is on the rise again - and keepers of birds and poultry in the region must take these measures.

New measures have been brought in to prevent an avian influenza epidemic among the region’s birds.

Due to the heightened risk as a result of migratory flocks returning to the UK for the winter, the government has brought in new measures to protect poultry and captive birds.

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As of Monday, November 7, it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK, including the many across the North East, to keep their birds indoors - whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock.

UK birdkeepers are also asked to undertake other strict biosecurity measures to help limit the spread of the disease and keep flocks safe. This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing and vehicles when entering or exiting sites and limiting access to non-essential workers or visitors.

What to do if you have captive birds or poultry?

If you keep captive birds such as poultry, including as pets, and you suspect avian influenza you must report this to DEFRA on 0300 0200301.

If a member of the public comes across a dead wild bird, they are asked to report it to DEFRA on 03459 335577 (select option 7) and not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds. Providing good location information for a dead or diseased bird is particularly important and location apps such as ‘what3words’, references can be very helpful.

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Philip Soderquest, director of housing and public protection at Northumberland County Council, said: “Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months can carry the disease and where wild birds are allowed to mix with domestic birds, or there is a risk of contamination form bird droppings, this can lead to the disease spreading to captive birds.

“Unfortunately, there continues to be avian influenza in wild birds in the northern coastal area of Northumberland, so it is especially important that local bird keepers adhere to these new rules.”

Does ‘Bird Flu’ present a risk to humans?

UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers and it does not affect the consumption of poultry or eggs.

Bird keepers are also advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, report suspected disease immediately and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. Moving sick birds from premises should be avoided to help prevent any possible spread of disease.

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