Bird flu fears grow as spate of UK swan deaths investigated

A spate of swan deaths across Britain are reportedly being investigated amid concerns they could be linked to a wave of avian flu from Europe.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked people to report sightings of dead swans after confirming a number of cases of H5N8 in wild birds, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Small outbreaks of H5N8, which has been in evidence among wild bird populations in Europe, have been confirmed in geese and swans in Gloucestershire, Devon and Dorset.

The Guardian has also reported a number of dying swans were found spinning in circles and bleeding from the nostrils in Cumbria.

Britain’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss told the Telegraph: ‘After a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in England we have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease.’

Some bird keepers across England, Wales and Scotland have been placed under strict biosecurity measures after the discovery of H5N8 cases at two poultry farms in Herefordshire and Cheshire.

Public Health England has said the risk to public health and food safety from the virus is low, with properly cooked poultry and poultry products including eggs posing no danger.

According to the NHS, the H5N8 strain has yet to infect any humans worldwide, while Public Health England say the risk to public health and food safety is low.

Earlier this month, the risk level for avian influenza incursion into wild birds in Great Britain was raised from ‘medium’ to ‘high’.

The Food Standards Agency said that avian influenzas pose a ‘very low’ food safety risk for UK consumers.

Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat, Defra added.

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