Bird deaths at Exeter Quay could be avian flu - petsitterbank

Bird deaths at Exeter Quay could be avian flu

A possible outbreak of avian flu is being investigated following the sightings of dead swans and geese at Exeter Quay.

Incidents of birds found passed away at different locations alongside the quayside, including near the main bridge by Puerto Lounge and outside the Port Royal pub, have been reported to the RSCPA and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Local charity Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT), which is based down Exeter Quay, has also been involved after a local resident reported having found a dead swan earlier this week.

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DEFRA has confirmed it is aware of a number of wild bird deaths reported from several locations in England. However, it has not commented on the deaths in Exeter.

Referring instead to the deaths across England as a whole it said: “These deaths are currently under investigation as part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s (APHA) on-going wild bird surveillance programme.

“We publish a report, updated regularly, on findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds in Great Britain.”



Swans glide along the river Exe by the suspension bridge at the Historic Quayside in Exeter

Bird flu – avian influenza – is a notifiable, infectious disease that affects wild, captive and commercially-raised birds. Avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However, the disease is taken very seriously as it is devastating to birds and spreads very fast.

DWT has confirmed it has called upon the assistance of the RSPCA this week after a resident reported finding a dead swan at Exeter Quay.

A spokeswoman for DWT said: “The RSCPA took the swan away and it will be tested to find out what caused its death.

“I don’t think there has been any official verification yet. Avian flu seems to be the most likely reason but we just don’t know. There were no obvious signs of injury to the bird.”

She added: “It’s always upsetting to find dead swans. We hope the cause of death will be established soon.”




Local resident Melanie King who came across a few dead birds along Exeter Quay on Monday said: “Behind the old customs house and the brewery I saw one dead swan and one very poorly one, plus lots of other dead things around like fish. I saw two other dead swans and a dead goose further down the canal towards the coffee cellar and the Port Royal.

“A bin man or similar had just fished out the two dead swans and when I asked if they would investigate why they were dead he said they just go in the bin. Then as I went up further towards the quay I saw a dead goose. “

DEFRA is leading the drive to manage the spread of avian flu, which has no known cure. Where requested, the RSPCA is working with the government and others to help tackle suspected outbreaks in local wild bird populations.

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In line with Government guidance, the RSPCA is advising the public not to touch, move or transport sick or dead birds.

Anyone who finds dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should report it to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 335577. Members of the public should not pick up any dead or visibly sick birds.



The latest avian influenza prevention zones in the UK
The latest avian influenza prevention zones in the UK

APHA will then arrange collection of some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird, not all birds will be collected.

For the latest updates on the avian influenza situation, please click here.

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