The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has now confirmed there is avian influenza A(H5N1) in wild bird populations in Wolverhampton.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is urging people not to touch any sick or dead wild birds following die off in wildfowl in the city including in Canada geese in West Park. Pets should also be kept on a lead and away from any potentially infected birds.

Dr James Chipwete, Consultant in Health Protection with UKHSA West Midlands, said: “The A(H5N1) strain is currently the most common strain of bird flu in this country and is highly pathogenic to other birds. The risk to the public from avian flu remains low, however it is possible for humans to catch the virus, so it is vital that people do not touch any sick or dead birds, or have contact with their droppings, eggs or bedding, which may also be contaminated. As a precaution, anyone who has been in direct contact with a sick or dying bird in an area where the infection has been confirmed, will require close monitoring and follow up with UKHSA.”

The City of Wolverhampton Council and UKHSA West Midlands are working together and liaising with Defra (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) to manage the situation and protect public health and reduce the risk to other birds, wildlife and pets. 

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “I would like to reassure residents that the risk of them catching avian flu is very low. This is an infectious virus which spreads among birds, and it is very unusual for humans to be affected.

“However, we are issuing a precautionary warning as it is possible for humans to catch the virus through close contact with an infected bird, dead or alive. Therefore, it is very important that you do not touch any sick or dead wild birds you may find. Equally, you must not touch their droppings, eggs or bedding.

“If you find any dead wild birds in our parks, do not touch them and instead report them to Wolverhampton Council’s park rangers’ team on 07766 473 150. In addition, please do not feed any birds until further notice as this encourages them to congregate and risk spreading the infection to other birds.”

Contact City of Wolverhampton Council park rangers’ team on 07766 473 150:

  • for removal of dead birds in city parks, to prevent potential spread of infection to birds, pets or people

If you have found a sick or injured wild bird:

  • Please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. Do not touch the bird. 

Outside the Wolverhampton area – contact the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 to report:

  • 1 or more dead birds of prey or owls
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (eg swans, geese and ducks) 
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species

For further advice see GOV.UK.

For more information contact UKHSA West Midlands press office on 0121 232 9223/4 Out of Hours 07834 311 393.