Further tests are being carried out to determine the strain of the virus and more will be known today. The preliminary test results show that it is likely to be the H7 strain of avian influenza, and not H5N1. Further confirmatory tests are in progress to determine the pathogenicity.
Avian Influenza is a disease of birds and whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty to humans, this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces. At this stage there is no definite confirmation that this is a virus that has human health implications. As a precautionary measure those who might have been exposed would be offered the appropriate treatment and protection in line with established protocols. Advice from the Food Standards Agency remains that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
Avian influenza viruses in poultry have the potential to be highly pathogenic if the virus is of the H7 type. All avian influenzas (H1 to H16) can be low pathogenic but only H5 and H7 can become highly pathogenic.
Guidance on handling and disposing of dead garden and wild birds:
The advice given here applies in all circumstances where members of the public may come across a dead bird.
If you find a dead swan, goose or duck or three or more dead wild, or garden birds together in the same place, please report this to Defra, via the Defra Helpline on 08459 33 55 77.
They may wish to have the birds examined for signs of specific diseases. They will advise you on what action you should take.
If the dead bird is a single, small garden, or wild bird then you do not need to call Defra.
- leave it alone, or
- follow the guidelines below for disposal People should follow some simple hygiene precautions to minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds and the following simple steps are also effective against avian influenza.
If you have to move a dead bird
1. Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands.
2. If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available see point 7).
3. Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag.
4. Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag.
5. Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
6. Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
7. If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste.
8. Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag.
9. Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
10. Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.