Suspected bird flu outbreak in Bedford after dead swans found in river

Three swans and a Canadian goose were discovered

By Clare Turner
Monday, 14th December 2020, 4:55 pm

Three dead swans and a Canadian goose have been found in the Ouse, following a suspected outbreak of bird flu.

According to Joanne Gullon, St Bede's Ford Swannery CIC director, a Canadian goose and swan were discovered on Saturday, November 28 floating dead in the river near the Boatslide Weir, on The Embankment.

She said: "These were reported to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as a suspected bird flu outbreak, and to the environmental department of Bedford Borough Council for removal of the bodies. Something which did not occur until noon of Monday, 48 hours later."

River Ouse (Google)

She added: "It is was a heavy heart that I know must report the deaths of two further swans. A cygnet and my dear friend CPea. I know that CPea has been ill and manifesting signs of bird flu for the last couple of days. Both birds are in the water near to the boat slide weir."

Cllr Charles Royden, portfolio holder for environment, said: “Avian flu is a notifiable disease and any concerns should be reported directly to Defra. In the case of wild birds, Defra will then test them to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of birds.

“We are reminding people that if they come across a dead or visibly sick wild bird, please do not touch them or try to pick them up. If you see a dead wild bird, contact Defra and they will be able to help.”

An ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’ was declared across the whole of England in November, and from today all bird keepers in England are required to keep their birds indoors.

Public Health advises that the risk to public health from bird flu is very low. While some strains can pass to humans, it is very rare and requires very close contact between the human and infected birds.

Nevertheless, the public are reminded to not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds. If you find any dead wild birds such as swans, geese or ducks you should report them the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. There will be notices going up along the Embankment with this information and further advice.