Seals found dead on Cornish beaches test positive for bird flu

Five seal carcasses which tested positive for avian flu were found dead on Cornish beaches. Credit: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Avian flu has been discovered in five seals which were found dead on beaches in Cornwall.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust has issued a warning after the findings, urging people to stay away from dead animals that wash up on beaches.

The organisation says it was alerted by a strandings investigation group today (16 March) of the discovery.

A spokesperson from the trust said: "We are urging all members of the public to stay away from all dead animals which wash into our beaches, including seals, dolphins, porpoises, whales and sea birds.

"The general public is advised against approaching and interacting with seals in the UK, even when the animals are in danger or distress.

"Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network are taking extra precautions.

"It is now mandatory for all volunteers attending strandings to wear face masks and wear protective eyewear in addition to their usual PPE (disposable gloves and full waterproofs which must be disinfected after use) and cleaning processes."

Experts have reassured that avian flu is a 'long way' from spreading to humans.

Last month, Professor Ian Brown of The UK Health Security Agency said: “We need to understand the consequence of this infection. Does it make the virus change by jumping its host? We’re aware those events can sometimes lead to that.”

Asked whether there was a possibility that bird flu could become a virus that infects humans like Covid, he said: “At the moment, we’re a long way from that."