Fears of a local spread of Bird Flue (Avian Influenca H5N8) have been raised following the mysterious, sad death of nine swans on Stanley Park Lake. Residents are being asked to avoid direct contact with, and to report wild dying or dead birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Brought in by wild birds migrating across Europe, Bird Flu last caused widespread avian deaths in the winter of 2016-17. The risk to human health from the virus is very low, according to Public Health England. Additionally, both the Food Standard Agency and Christine Middlemiss, the UK chief veterinary officer, have said that Bird Flu poses a very low food safety risk for consumers. Meanwhile, the government has declared an avian influenza prevention zone across England, Scotland and Wales, requiring all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.
Currently, it has been confirmed this afternoon by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that the swans which have sadly yet mysteriously died at Stanley Park Lake have tested positive for Avian Influenza H5N8.
However, the RSPCA have been in attendance at the park regularly since the death of the beautiful swans and DEFRA have also removed a number of swans for further investigation and analysis.
Blackpool Council has been advised that the park can remain open as Public Health England have confirmed the risk to the public is very low, however, an area around the lake will be zoned off as a precaution.
John Blackledge, Director for Community and Environmental Services at Blackpool Council said:
‘The welfare and care of all the birds at Stanley Park Lake is of paramount importance to us. The lake and the wildlife at Stanley Park is a huge part of our award winning park and one of the many reasons why it is so well loved by locals and visitors alike. I am deeply saddened that so many of our beautiful swans have died and I know many local people will be too.
We are working closely with the RSPCA and DEFRA to ensure all appropriate measures are put in place and I want to thank all the officers involved for acting so quickly and reporting this to the relevant authorities. I urge the public to avoid any contact with wild birds and to report any dead or sick wild birds to DEFRA on helpline on 03459 33 55 77.’