Avian influenza (bird flu)

What is bird flu?

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

What is our 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 and Social Care 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.

Handling and disposing of dead birds

DEFRA have lots of 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.

Reporting suspected bird flu in poultry or captive birds

If you suspect any type of bird flu in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.

Reporting dead wild birds

You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:

  • one or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks) 
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Further information

Last Updated on Monday, March 6, 2023