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‘Don’t touch dead or sick birds’ message as poultry owners reminded to reduce risk of spreading Avian flu 


Cornwall Council Trading Standards is reminding all keepers of poultry within a 3km exclusion zone near Newlyn that they are legally required to take measures to reduce the risk of Avian (bird) flu spreading. 

The public are also reminded that they should not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find and follow Defra's guidance

Defra's advice to the public

Whilst the health risks to the general public are low, Public Health Cornwall is also urging people not to feed wild birds to further reduce the risk and stop the virus spreading. 

The reminders follow confirmation by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) that cases of avian influenza were confirmed on 19 August 2022 in captive wild birds (non-poultry) near Newlyn.  

A 3km Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone has been put in place around the premises. The Council has written to all keepers of poultry within the controlled zone to remind them that they must house all poultry and captive birds, and that there is a ban on release of game birds, which applies to all zones in the declaration. 

This means all bird keepers within the Controlled Zone, regardless of whether they are pet birds, a commercial flock or just a few birds in a backyard, must keep their birds indoors and keep a close watch on them for signs of disease. 

Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. 

If you find dead wild swans, geese or ducks or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).  

Bird keepers must follow strictbiosecurity measures which include: 

  • Disinfecting all vehicles which have been transporting poultry and disinfecting all crates, containers, plastic egg trays and other equipment before and after use. 
  • Keep farm access routes, parking areas, yards, areas around buildings and storage areas clean and tidy and well maintained, 
  • Keep all poultry houses or sheds well maintained to ensure that wild birds do not nest or roost in them. 
  • Keep wild birds, dogs, cats, rodents, and other livestock out of poultry buildings and feed stores. 

Jane Tomlinson Trading Standard Manager covering Animal Health and Welfare at Cornwall Trading Standards Service, said: “Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, poultry keepers are legally required to meet the enhanced biosecurity procedures to protect their birds from this highly infectious virus. 

“We are responsible for enforcement of these legal requirements and our officers are working hard to help and advise poultry keepers. We recommend all poultry keepers sign up to the Defra poultry register and the disease alert service where they will receive regular text updates.” 

Brian O’Neill, Consultant in Public Health at Cornwall Council, said: “Bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to people’s health is low. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to stop it spreading so that risk becomes even lower.  

“As well as not touching them, we would also strongly urge people not to feed wild birds at their local ponds, lakes and rivers as large gatherings of birds make transmission of the virus more likely.” 

The risk to public health is low but if you find sick or dead wild birds, don’t touch them.

You should call the Defra helpline 03459 33 55 77 (select option 7) if you find: 

  • one or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks) 
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species


  • if it is on Council land, please let us know so we can remove it.  You can report it here and pinpoint the location.  There is an interactive map so you can see if it’s on Council land.
  • if the dead bird is on private land, please report it to the landowner.
  • if you find a dead bird on your property, if DEFRA is unable to remove it, please follow DEFRA’s guidance on how to safely dispose of it

You can sign up for 

APHA alert service 


Defra's email alerts

Story posted 23 August 2022. Updated 26 August 2022.

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