MEMBERS of the public are being advised to avoid interacting with wild birds in the region, and to report any discoveries of sick or dead birds.
An assessment of a ‘very low’ risk to public health is being offered, following the confirmation of at least one case of H5N1 avian flu within Dumfries and Galloway.
Consultant in Public Health Medicine Dr Nigel Calvert said: “Our region is well known as a popular location for migratory birds at this time of year.
“Other countries and other areas of Scotland have recently seen reports of visiting birds falling ill with the H5N1 avian flu, so it was not unexpected that we would also see cases within Dumfries and Galloway – given the numbers that visit each year.
“In recent days a number of birds have fallen ill along the Solway Coast. Tests are taking place, following confirmation of an initial case of H5N1 in a swan.
“The risk to the public from this strain of avian flu is very low. However, it is important that people do not touch any sick or dead birds.
“We would ask anyone who identifies a sick or dead bird to please contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the first instance by phoning 03459 335577 (please select option 7).
“If anyone has recently handled a sick or dead bird, especially without benefit of personal protective equipment, they can receive advice by contacting Public Health on 01387 246246.
“Finally, as a precautionary measure, signs are being erected at some locations along the Solway Coast to advise of the current situation in respect of migratory birds, while testing continues to take place.”
General information for the public on contact with sick or dead birds, and their disposal, can be found on the Scottish Government website at https://www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/pages/dead-or-sick-wild-birds-what-to-do/