Warning after confirmed cases of bird flu at Newstead Abbey

Visitors to Newstead Abbey – and local residents – have been warned not to interact with wild birds after confirmed cases of avian flu at the former home of Lord Byron.

By Martin Hutton
Monday, 7th March 2022, 9:40 am

Businesses, schools and residents with poultry and captive birds are being asked to keep them indoors where possible to reduce the risk of spreading bird flu after the discovery at the iconic property.

Residents and visitors to the abbey, which dates back to the 13th Century and has large grounds including ponds and lakes, are advised not to feed wild birds and not to touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that they find.

Dog owners are also advised to keep their pets on a lead and take reasonable precautions to reduce exposure to wild waterfowl to minimise the risk of transferring the virus into bird-keeping areas.

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If anyone finds dead swans, geese or other dead wild birds,report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77

If anyone finds dead swans, geese or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, they should report them to the Defra helpline on 0345 933 5577.

Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months and other wildlife spread the disease, so it is vital to not allow wild birds to mix with chickens, ducks, geese or other birds.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.

Bird flu cases have been confirmed at Newstead Abbey

To limit the spread of disease, the Government introduced housing measures in November which means that all bird keepers (whether it is someone who has pet birds or a few chickens, ducks or geese in the back yard to holders of commercial flocks) are legally required to keep them housed and to follow strict biosecurity measures. If strict biosecurity measures are maintained by poultry keepers, the risk of an outbreak of the disease would be low at their premises.

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Key advice for poultry keepers includes to:

House or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds;

Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing;

Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control;

Thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis;

Keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points;

Minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.

These housing measures will be kept under regular review.

Although the risk to human health from the virus is low, people can catch bird flu via direct contact with a live or dead bird carrying the virus or via direct contact with bird faeces from a bird carrying the virus.

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