Avian Influenza Information

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) is a disease of birds which is passed very rarely and with difficulty to humans, this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces. As a precautionary measure those who might have been exposed would be offered the appropriate treatment and protection in line with established protocols. Advice from the Food Standards Agency remains that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

For the latest information please refer to the Animal Health website under useful links.

Guidance on handling and disposing of dead garden and wild birds

The advice given here applies in all circumstances where members of the public may come across a dead bird, regardless of whether there is any bird flu in the UK.

If you find die offs involving 10 or more dead birds of the same species or from different species in the same place you should contact the Defra Helpline (08459 33 55 77) and choose the Avian Influenza option which will be open from 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday. Weekend opening 9am - 5pm.

If you find any single dead birds (or less than 10), including garden birds then you do not need to call the Defra helpline. You should:

  • leave it alone, or
  • follow the guidelines below for disposal

Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people and some simple hygiene precautions should minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds and the following simple steps are also effective against avian influenza.

If you have to move a dead bird:

  1. Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands.
  2. If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available see 7).
  3. Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag.
  4. Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag.
  5. 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.
  6. Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
  7. 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.
  8. Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag.
  9. 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.
  10. Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.

Defra are currently seeing an increase in garden bird and particularly finch deaths. The most affected species are greenfinch and chaffinch. The majority of current deaths are being caused by a protozoal organism Trichomonas.

This is not a disease which humans can catch and it is unrelated to Avian Influenza.

Pet birds kept in your home

Your pet bird should not catch avian influenza if you do not allow it to come into contact with wild birds, wild bird faeces or another introduced infected pet bird.

  • Avoid contact between your pet birds and wild birds
  • Do not allow contact with wild bird faeces.
  • Remember not to introduce wild bird faeces from outside on your clothes or shoes by instituting sensible hygiene measures
  • Ensure that any introduced bird comes from a reputable source
  • If your bird becomes ill contact your veterinary surgeon for advice

The information given above is taken from the Defra web site.  For up to date information please visit the DeFRA website or call their helpline on 08459 33 55 77.

Last updated on: 22/09/2014 - 13:59