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Warning as second bird flu case found at Scots nature reserve


People are being warned not to pick up sick or dead birds after a second case of avian flu was confirmed in Dumfries and Galloway.

A flock of free-range hens are to be culled after testing positive for the disease weeks after an outbreak at the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve.

The Scottish Government has imposed restrictions on the commercial premises at Raeburnhead, Kirkpatrick Fleming.

A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone has been set up around the site.

The birds will be humanely culled to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Despite Scotland’s chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas saying the risk to humans is “very low”, the health board’s consultant in public health medicine, Dr Nigel Calvert, is advising people to steer clear of wild birds as a precaution.

He said: “Our region is well known as a popular location for migratory birds at this time of year.

“And with other countries and areas of Scotland having experienced cases this was not to be unexpected within Dumfries and Galloway. However, we would remind people not to touch any sick or dead birds.

“We would also assure that the H5N1 virus poses no risk in the consumption of food, so long as meat or eggs from poultry are properly cooked.

“Nevertheless, anyone involved locally in either the hunting, rearing or processing of wildfowl, game birds and poultry is reminded of the need to wash hands (and arms if necessary) after handling poultry and to cover all new and existing cuts and grazes with waterproof dressings before starting work.”

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is also urging people to be vigilant.

He said: “The news of another case of avian flu in Dumfries and Galloway will be very concerning for those who keep birds in the area and my thoughts are with the owners of the flock which has to be culled.

“This is a very serious disease and I would urge anyone who owns birds to remain vigilant and adhere to the guidelines which have been issued to prevent the further spread.

“I am also calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to continue to closely monitor the situation in the region and provide as much support and advice as local bird owners need to get through this time.

“While the risk to humans has been deemed relatively low, I would also ask that people report any sightings of dead wild birds to Defra but to not touch or pick up any dead birds.”

If anyone has recently handled a sick or dead bird, they can receive advice by contacting Public Health on 01387 246246.

Information 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/

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