Bird Flu

Bird Flu

Bird flu is a highly infectious disease that affects many species of birds, including commercial, wild and pet birds. Some strains of avian influenza may have the capacity to affect other animals and humans - particularly those in close contact with poultry.

What is the Council's Role?

The Council's role is to support the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). In the course of an outbreak, DEFRA will co-ordinate the response at a national and local level.

Additionally the Council will support the Department of Health who will lead on the Health response arising from any pandemic illness. The Department of Health provides support to the NHS in preparing pandemic flu guidance. This guidance will determine the UK's response to any pandemic incident.

In the event of a serious epidemic, the Council will assist the Health Authorities in circulating public information, opening flu vaccination centres at strategic points throughout the District and being prepared to implement their mass casualty contingency plans. The Council will also provide information to farmers and those in rural areas, and will assist with monitoring the spread of any outbreak.

Guidance on handling and disposing of dead birds

DEFRA have good advice on what to do if you find dead birds in your garden or in a public place. They advise not to touch dead birds without adequate protection, such as disposable gloves and follow strict hygiene rules.

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. The current DEFRA helpline opening hours are Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.

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.

I have found a dead bird in the garden. What should I do?

  • leave it alone, or
  • follow the guidelines below for disposal
  • People should follow some simple hygiene precautions that should minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds. The following simple steps are also effective in reducing the risk still further.

If you have to move a dead bird

  • Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands
  • If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (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
  • Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
  • Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag
  • 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.
  • Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water
  • Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
  • 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.

Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.