Swans and geese found dead near Oxford University as cases of bird flu spread across UK


The bodies of the swans and geese were discovered at Iffley Lock and nearby Port Meadow where Oxford University students stroll and relax beside the River Thames

Families of geese by the River Thames, close to the Thames Path in Oxford
Families of geese by the River Thames, close to the Thames Path in Oxford

Three swans and a number of geese have been found dead near University of Oxford in a suspected avian flu outbreak as cases spread across the UK.

The potential case of the disease has been identified by a vet at Iffley Lock, in Oxford.

Their bodies were discovered at Iffley Lock and nearby Port Meadow, where uni students stroll and relax beside the River Thames.

It’s suspected to be the latest in a string of bird flu outbreaks which have hit flocks across Britain.

Earlier today it was confirmed that a number of seagulls found dead on a Cornish beach have tested positive for bird flu.

CornwallLive was contacted a short while ago by a member of the public who reported finding 30 dead seagulls within a short distance on Longrock Beach, Penzance whilst walking her dog.

Dead seagulls found on Longrock Beach in Cornwall, whose bodies have since tested positive for bird flu
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Image:

Cornwall Live WS)

The woman in question reported the matter to the Cornish Wildlife Trust who in turn passed the matter on to Government department Defra.

The woman said: “It was very unusual and quite disturbing, as I’m used to seeing the occasional dead bird, but never so many so close together.”

Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency has now confirmed that some of the gulls have tested positive for avian influenza (bird flu).

A spokesman said: ““We are aware of a number of wild bird deaths in the Longrock area near Penzance, Cornwall.

Port Meadow in Wolvercote, near Oxford
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Image:

PA)

“These deaths are currently under investigation and five gulls collected from the area have been found positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1.”

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans. There are lots of different strains of bird flu virus. Most of them don’t infect humans.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency carries out year-round avian influenza surveillance of dead wild birds submitted via public reports and warden patrols and there have been multiple findings of avian influenza in wild birds from sited across the UK.

Dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should be reported to the Defra helpline (03459 335577).

Defra then collect some of these birds and test them to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird. Not all birds will be collected.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

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

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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