A number of bird flu cases has now been confirmed in the UK, including within Lancashire and as such birders should be highly vigilant when out and about to any suspected cases they may come across. It goes without saying that dead birds should ideally not be handled by untrained persons as some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans, but this is very rare. It usually requires very close contact between the human and infected birds. Based on what is currently known about the H5N8 strain, the risk to public health is considered very low. There have never been any recorded cases of H5N8 in humans.
Members of the public should report dead wild birds - such as swans, geese, ducks, gulls or birds of prey - to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Defra will then collect some of these birds and test them to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird.
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Birds, birders and birding in Greater Manchester and way beyond...