Suspected case of bird flu in swan reported to DEFRA

A dead swan was found in the River Great Ouse at Godmanchester.

A dead swan was found in the River Great Ouse at Godmanchester. - Credit: Hunts Post

A suspected case of Avian Flu has been reported to the RSPCA and DEFRA after a dead swan was found in the River Great Ouse in Huntingdonshire.

A member of the public discovered the bird near the Chinese Bridge at Godmanchester on June 21.

The man told The Hunts Post the bird was in some distress and later died. He then notified the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as a precaution.

A spokesperson for DEFRA would not confirm it was dealing with the incident and said: "We cannot check on every reported bird death. If a member of the public contacted DEFRA, the bird would have been dealt with following the usual protocol.

"The public can be assured that we are responding to outbreaks swiftly and that the risk to humans is low. However, we do not recommend touching dead birds."

All confirmed cases of Avian Flu in wild birds are posted on Defra's website, and there has, so far, not been any update regarding a dead bird at Godmanchester.

Cases of bird flu rose almost five-fold this year and according to DEFRA, there are currently102 cases of avian influenza H5N1 in England at the current time.

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According to DEFRA data, a case of bird flu was recorded in early January this year when a Common Buzzard was found dead in Huntingdonshire.

The RSPCA were also called in relation to the incident at Godmanchester and a spokesperson for the animal charity said: “We are sad to hear that a swan has died. An officer attended the location - but did not find any sick or dead swans. We have since been informed that a body of a swan was later found, and this was reported to DEFRA as a matter of course in case it could be an incident of possible bird flu.

“Avian flu continues to be a problem, circulating widely in the UK’s wild bird population."

According to feedback the Hunts Post has received, the swan was one of the adults of the breeding pair that nested on the Causeway, and their entire brood of cygnets have also died.

Other wild birds including ducks and herons have also been found dead within the same few weeks of June.

The public is advised that if any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, are found, they should be reported to the DEFRA helpline on: 03459 335577.

Members of the public are also advised they should not pick up any dead or visibly sick birds.