BIRD flu has been found among wild bird populations at a Warwickshire country park.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have confirmed there is avian influenza at Kingsbury Water Park in North Warwickshire.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is now urging people visiting the park and surrounding area not to touch any sick or dead wild birds.
The UKHSA, Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and North Warwickshire Borough Council are working with APHA to manage the situation and protect public health and the risk to other birds.
The A(H5N1) strain of bird flu found at Kingsbury Water Park is highly pathogenic to other birds, but the risk to human health is considered very low.
However, it is vital that people do not touch sick live birds or bird carcasses – and infection control measures may be necessary if they do.
Dr Mamoona Tahir, 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, however it is important that people do not touch any sick or dead birds.
“As a precaution, anyone who may have come into contact with the droppings or birds in an area where the infection has been confirmed will be monitored and offered a course of antiviral medication if needed.”
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, while not wearing the correct PPE, should make sure any footwear is properly cleaned and thoroughly wash their hands in soap and water.
They should then notify 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. If someone handled infected birds while wearing adequate PPE, they must still undergo active surveillance.
WCC’s health spokeswoman Coun Margaret Bell said: “Warwickshire County Council has acted swiftly to support partner agencies to ensure the safety of the public. A range of signs with advice for visitors to Kingsbury are currently in place across the site. We are also asking people not to feed the wild birds at this time.
“If you find a sick or dead bird, contact the park rangers on 07785 522684. Do not touch or move dead birds and keep dogs away from them.”
Dr Shade Agboola, Director of Public Health, Warwickshire County Council said: “The incidence of avian flu in the wild bird population is something that we are taking very seriously.
“The UKHSA has made it clear that the risk of the disease transferring from birds to humans is considered to be very low. To ensure this situation remains, the advice we have received is that members of the public should not touch or go near sick or dying birds and any dead birds found should be reported to the park rangers to assist with disposal.
“We have also put up posters in the area to ask people not to feed the birds and remind people to keep to footpaths and to keep dogs on leads.”
Kingsbury Water Park is managed by rangers who monitor local bird population carefully. It is likely that avian flu is circulating in a wider area and anyone who sees sick or dead birds by waterways or on private land should not touch them and call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.