Bird flu case in human confirmed in south west England but risk to public 'very low'

6 January 2022, 13:54 | Updated: 6 January 2022, 14:29

Security staff check all visitors after a bird flu outbreak last November (file image)
Security staff check all visitors after a bird flu outbreak last November (file image). Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

A new case of bird flu has been confirmed a person in the South West of England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

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The UKHSA said the risk to the wider public from avian flu continues to be very low but said people should not touch sick or dead birds.

The infected person is understood to be in very close and regular contact with a large number of infected birds they kept - for a long period of time.

In a statement, it said: "Bird to human transmission of avian flu is very rare and has only occurred a small number of times in the UK previously.

"The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time.

"All contacts of the individual, including those who visited the premises, have been traced and there is no evidence of onward spread of the infection to anyone else. The individual is currently well and self-isolating."

What is bird flu?

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is a type of influenza that spreads among birds.

The UK has recently seen a large number of outbreaks and incidents in birds across the country of the H5N1 strain and APHA and the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has issued alerts to bird owners.

Can humans get bird flu?

Some strains of bird flu can pass from birds to people, but this is extremely rare.

It usually requires close contact with an infected bird, so the risk to humans is generally considered very low.

Human to human transmission of bird flu is very rare.

How was the case discovered?

The case was detected after the Animal and Plant health Agency (APHA) identified an outbreak of outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian flu in their flock of birds.

Their infection was identified through the routine monitoring which is conducted on anyone who has close contact with infected birds.

What happens to the birds involved?

The infected birds have all been culled.