Devon bird flu patient banned from keeping ducks

Alan Gosling became the first person to contract the flu strain in the UK (Image: SWNS)

A man who caught bird flu from the ducks he shared his home with has been banned from keeping pets.

Alan Gosling risked becoming “patient zero” when he was infected by one of his 160 pet birds.

The 79-year-old retired train driver cared for the ducks for several years and endured the agony of having his pets culled.

He was forced to quarantine at his home in Buckfastleigh, Devon, after a lab test confirmed he was the first human case of the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Alan has since turned negative and is allowed to return to his daily life once a deep cleaning of his home is complete.

But relatives say he was given another hammer blow this week when he was reportedly told he would not be able to keep ducks for 12 months.

Alan previously described his flock of Muscovy ducks – 20 of whom live at home with him – as “family”.

Two ducks

The bird-obsessed bred dozens of ducks at his Devon home but bird flu was spreading through his flock (Image: SWNS)

Daughter-in-law Ellesha Gosling, 26, said: “When the ducks were killed his only hope was that he would get more.

“He thought hope was not lost because he was able to fill the void after losing his closest companions.

“But now he’s been told it’s not safe for new ducks to go onto his land for a whole year. Dad’s face screwed up when he was told.

“It really hurt him because that kept him going. They took all his friends away from him and now he has nothing left.’

Several of Mr Gosling’s ducks fell ill at the end of December, as the government warned of the spread of the disease in the UK.

It was also confirmed a few days later that he was the first case in the UK – although he had no symptoms – and has since remained isolated in his empty home.

He said of culling: “I keep thinking about it and when I go to sleep it’s what I dream about – it never gets out of my head.

Alan Gosling at his home in Buckfastleigh, Devon

Mr Gosling has had to isolate at home after testing positive for H5N1 (Image: SWNS)

“They were like my family and I miss them like hell. I hand raised them with chicks and some of them were 12 or 13 years old.”

Despite plans to decontaminate, Ellesha and husband Richard Gosling, 47, said they were told no ducks would be allowed for at least a year.

She added: “We were told his property would not be suitable for a full clean and then a top-up.

“Dad’s face grimaced when he was told he couldn’t have one for a year – he couldn’t believe it.

“He’s absolutely desperate. When the ducks were killed his only hope was that he would be able to get more.

“He thought all was not lost because of that, but now he’s been told no – it really hurt him. They took all his friends away from him and now he has nothing left.’

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