Residents are being urged to stay away from sick or dead birds after two swans in the Falmouth area were found to have been infected with Avian Influenza, commonly known as bird flu.

The bodies were collected by the Animal Plant Health Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Tests confirmed that both birds were infected with the H5N8 strain of the virus.

Cornwall Council is working with Public Health England, DEFRA and other agencies to closely monitor the situation, however there is not believed to be any immediate risk to human health.

Dr Ruth Goldstein, deputy director of Public Health at Cornwall Council, said: “The risk to human health from Avian Influenza is low and we’d like to reassure residents that this virus is in no way linked to Covid-19.

“While incidents of this nature are rare in Cornwall, multiple species of wild birds have been found to be positive for avian influenza in locations across England."

Earlier this week the Marine Strandings Network said it had been made aware of of several dead little egrets on the Helford estuary and it had reported the deaths to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs because of the risk of avian influenza.

The risk has been increased to very high for wild birds and medium for poultry with high biosecurity and high for poultry with poor biosecurity.

The findings followed concerns about the fate of up to 60 wild swans on the Penryn River who disappeared from their usual feeding grounds without warning last week according to Packet reader Gloria Butterworth, who lives overlooking the Penryn River.


The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “Following a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds we have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease.

“It is important that bird keepers ensure they are doing all they can to maintain and strengthen biosecurity measures on their premises to prevent further outbreaks, including keeping their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.

“People should avoid contact with dead or sick wild birds and report findings of dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and select option 7.”

Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe and Asia during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.

Last year an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared across the whole of England in order to prevent the disease spreading. This requires bird keepers to house their animals securely in order to prevent contact with wild birds.

Bird keepers, whether they have hundreds or only one or two birds, are reminded to familiarise themselves with the government’s avian flu advice and ensure their birds are housed appropriately.