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States Vets publish guidance on bird flu following two confirmed cases in Guernsey this weekend

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Thursday 14 July 2022

The States Veterinary Officers have published guidance to owners of domestic poultry and members of the public following two confirmed cases of Avian Influenza (bird flu) in wild Herring Gulls this weekend in Guernsey.

Advice from the Deputy States Veterinary Officer, Grace Hodgkinson, states that owners of domestic poultry must:

Poultry keepers must take precautionary measures to protect their birds but there is no compulsory requirement to house birds. Poultry owners will need to decide if the welfare risks associated with housing their flocks are unacceptable based upon their facilities and current environmental conditions.

Any poultry owners who are not on the voluntary poultry register should register by completing the form available at gov.gg/animalhealth. This page also contains more information about Avian Flu.

The holding or carrying out of any show, display, fair, exhibition, competition or other event involving any gathering of poultry is prohibited.

If members of the public come across any sick birds, please contact the GSPCA by calling 01481 257261. If the public come across any dead birds of prey, sea birds or poultry they must not touch them and should contact the States Vets using the contact details above. If the States Vets are unable to answer your call, please leave a message with as much information as possible, including:

If members of the public come across five or more dead garden birds or pigeons within a small area (e.g.  the size of a small garden), they should contact the States Vets. If less than five garden birds are found dead, they should be collected safely by the individual using gloves and double bagged before being disposed of in general black bag waste. Guidance on how to do this safely can be found on www.gov.gg/animalhealth.

Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, said:

'Bird flu is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds and there are many different types. Some strains of bird flu can pass to humans but this is extremely rare. It usually requires very close contact with an infected bird so the risk to humans is considered very low. However, it is really important that we follow the advice from the States Veterinary Officers and not touch any dead or sick birds, but contact either the States Vets or GSPCA.'

David Chamberlain, States Veterinary Officer, said:

'Having identified these two cases of bird flu this weekend, we're calling particularly on poultry owners to follow the guidance that has been provided for both the safety of their animals and also to prevent further spread to other wild birds.

'Members of the public also have an important role to play. If you come across dead or sick birds of prey, sea birds or poultry, please do not touch them, but instead contact us and provide us with as much information as you can.

'It's important to stress that bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public's health is very low. I'd like to thank members of the public in advance for their compliance with this guidance.'

The Bailiwick has several important breeding colonies for seabirds at locations including Les Etacs, the Humps, Lihou, the Pea Stacks and several other islets, which members of the public are already asked to avoid at this time of the year to prevent disturbance of the colonies. Given the confirmed presence of Avian Flu in wild birds found on Guernsey we ask members of the public, and particularly boat owners, to avoid visiting any areas where seabirds roost and nest.

Any ornithological related activities across the Bailiwick, including bird ringing or nest recording, should be cancelled immediately. We are grateful to local organisations such as the Channel Island Bird Ringing Scheme who have already voluntarily restricted their activities.

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