n outbreak of hen flu is “killing 1000’s of untamed birds” in keeping with the RSPB, which says Scotland is being “critically hit.”
There are additionally greater than a thousand confirmed instances of hen flu in England, plus instances have been confirmed in Wales and Northern Eire.
The RSPB experiences that birds like gannets, Sandwich and Arctic terns, eider geese, and guillemots are all being affected by the outbreak.
However what ought to you realize about avian influenza and whatshould you do in the event you see an affected hen?
What’s hen flu and the way is it transmitted?
The Division for Atmosphere, Meals and Rural Affairs (Defra) mentioned wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe throughout the winter months can carry the illness and this could result in instances in poultry and different captive birds.
Birds may be contaminated with the avian influenza virus by way of contact with contaminated particular person birds or waste merchandise. Wild birds together with waterfowl (swans, geese, geese) can carry and transmit the virus with out exhibiting proof of illness, in keeping with Paul Walton, head of habitats and species at RSPB Scotland.
How do you notice hen flu?
There are two kinds of avian influenza, with Extremely pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) being the extra severe sort. It’s usually deadly in birds.
A few of the medical indicators of HPAI in birds embrace sudden and fast improve within the variety of birds discovered lifeless, a number of birds affected in the identical shed or air house, a swollen head, closed and excessively watery eyes, head and physique tremoring, drooping of the wings and/or dragging of legs, twisting of the pinnacle and neck and swelling and blue discolouration of comb and wattles.
Different indicators embrace haemorrhages on shanks of the legs and underneath the pores and skin of the neck, lack of urge for food or marked lower in feed consumption, sudden improve or lower in water consumption, respiratory misery, sneezing, noticeable improve in physique temperature, discoloured or free watery droppings, and cessation or marked discount in egg manufacturing.
What can the federal government do?
The RSPB is asking for UK governments “to develop a response plan urgently.”
The charity says: “We need to see coordinated surveillance and testing of untamed and home birds, carcasses to be safely disposed of and susceptible hen populations protected. We additionally need measures put in place to cease the pointless disturbance of untamed birds affected by the virus.
“In the long term, we wish a lot increased significance being given to prioritising and funding seabird conservation. This could assist make our seabird populations extra resilient to those ailments and the opposite challenges they face.”
What’s the danger to the general public?
The chance to human well being from the virus could be very low and meals requirements our bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a really low meals security danger for UK customers, Defra mentioned.
Individuals are suggested to not contact or choose up any lifeless or sick birds that they discover and as a substitute report them to the related helpline.
Defra mentioned there isn’t any impression on the consumption of correctly cooked poultry merchandise together with eggs.
Is it nonetheless okay to feed birds in your backyard?
The RSPB mentioned everybody ought to take care to keep up good hygiene when feeding backyard birds, and in addition beneficial “frequently cleansing feeders outdoors with delicate disinfectant, eradicating previous hen meals, spacing out feeders as a lot as potential, and washing your fingers”.
UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss mentioned individuals who preserve chickens and need to feed wild birds want to verify every thing is saved “scrupulously clear” and “completely separate” to keep away from infecting their very own flocks.
What must you do in the event you see a sick or injured hen?
The RSPB mentioned if folks discover any lifeless waterfowl, any gulls or birds of prey or 5 or extra of every other species in a single place, they need to report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577 or in Northern Eire to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.
The RSPB additionally advises that individuals who stay in hen flu areas to maintain their canines on a lead.