Reading Council tells public not to feed ducks after bird flu hits Windsor

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney

Reading Borough Council is urging the public not to feed ducks and swans - amid fears bird flu is spreading in Berkshire. The local authority also recommended staying away from birds and bird droppings.

This winter has seen the largest outbreak of avian flu ever in the UK - and cases are being detected on waterways in the Thames Valley.

A control zone has already been set up in Windsor after a confirmed case of avian flu. The public there is being told not to touch dead birds and to keep dogs on leads.

Rescue charity Swan Support has been given special permission to feed the swans there to avoid starvation or malnutrition.

They say they will continue to work with Reading Council so birds there are fed and protected too.

Reading Council warned the public about avian flu on Twitter

Swan Support told ITV Meridian they have retrieved 30 dead swans in Berkshire including seven in Windsor. They say many more could have perished unnoticed.

"Unfortunately, as the weeks are going by, it seems to be getting worse and it's coming closer to home," says Wendy Hermon, Operations Director at Swan Support. "It's very upsetting for us at the moment.”

Avian flu is spread by wild migratory birds from Europe, where high infection levels are also being recorded. Swans, geese and ducks can catch it through contact with infected birds or their faeces.

In very rare cases, bird flu can be transmitted to humans - and can be fatal. But conservationists are primarily worried the public could be inadvertently spreading the disease by feeding waterfowl.

Swan Protect engages with the public how best to interact with birds, and had this advice: “When you go near the river, just be careful of what you step in. Maybe change footwear. Like, we've got stuff on our feet now because obviously we don't want to go from one place to another and spread it.”