Updated advice from Public Health, States Vets and Natural Environment has been issued to minimise the risk of Islanders coming into contact with Avian Influenza (bird flu).
Islanders who come across a sick or dead wild bird on public land are asked to NOT touch the bird but to report it to Natural Environment via an online form at gov.je/birdflu or by calling 01534 441600. A private contractor will then be assigned to collect the bird.
Dog owners and walkers are asked to stay to footpaths and keep dogs on leads to prevent them coming into contact with sick or dead birds.
Professor Peter Bradley, Director of Public Health said: ‘The strain of bird flu that we have identified in the Island is known to spread to humans and other animals. I want to assure Islanders that the general chances of becoming infected remain low, however the chance and risk of infection is increased if sick or dead birds are handled without taking precautions.’
Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Caroline Terburgh said: ‘Although the risk to pet dogs from avian influenza is very low, we ask all dog owners and walkers to keep their dogs on a lead where wild birds are known to gather, to reduce the chances of them coming into contact with dead or sick birds. This will also prevent very unwell birds being put under additional distress.
‘Once a sick or dead wild bird has been reported on public land the level of risk the bird poses will be assessed. If the bird needs to be disposed of or triaged for testing, it will be collected as quickly as possible. However, due to the PPE requirement and limited persons available for collection, times may be longer than the public would expect.’
Islanders who find sick garden birds and pigeons in their own gardens or on private land can report these to the JSPCA, who have been working closely with the Natural Environment team. These birds are not considered a high risk of being infected with bird flu. Sick birds which are not normally in gardens such as birds of prey, owls, swans, geese, ducks, seabirds, and gulls should be reported to the Natural Environment team and not be taken to your local veterinary practice or the JSPCA.
Guidance on the disposal of dead garden birds and pigeons in normal household waste can be found on www.gov.je/birdflu
Picture credit – chickensandyou.com