Avian Influenza

Find out about bird flu and what to do if you find a dead or sick bird

The Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed that the threat of avian influenza (bird flu) to birds continues. Sadly, this means there may be cases of bird flu in Brighton & Hove.

The risk of avian influenza for all poultry has reduced to low (meaning the event is rare but does occur) and the avian influenza prevention zones (AIPZ) for poultry and captive birds in England have now been lifted.

While the risk level in kept birds has reduced, the risk in wild birds remains high and all bird keepers should continue to take steps to prevent bird flu and stop it spreading at all times and be vigilant for signs of disease.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

The current advice remains:

  • Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.
  • Keep dogs on leads if you come across visibly sick or dead birds.
  • Anyone who has been in direct touching contact with visibly sick or dead birds should wash your hands immediately.

If a dead bird is found in a public area

Where dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), gulls or birds of prey are found on public land please do not touch or pick up the bird and keep dogs away from them.

Report them to the council so they can be disposed of safely:

You'll need to share as much information as possible about the bird and its location including:

  • the address, postcode, nearby landmark or What3Words reference
  • what type of bird and how many there are
  • your contact details in case more information is needed.

Any dead birds found on council housing land can be reported to the Housing estates service by email or by calling 01273 294769.

If a dead bird is found on private property

A dead bird remains very low risk to humans but please do not touch the bird.

Where you find:

  • one or more dead birds of prey
  • three or more dead birds that include at least one gull, swan, goose or duck
  • five or more dead wild birds of any species

Please report dead wild birds to DEFRA using their online reporting system, or call the helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Some of these birds will be collected and tested to help understand what risk is posed to poultry and other captive birds.

Depending on the circumstances, they may advise you to follow the Defra advice for the disposal of dead or sick birds or to contact the council.

The disposal recommendations include the advice to wear gloves when handling the carcass, to double bag or bury the bird, to dispose of the carcass or PPE safely, and that you should wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

You will need to contact a pest control service if you want a dead bird removed from a roof or other inaccessible area of your property.

If you find a sick or injured bird

Sick or injured wild birds should not be reported to the Defra Helpline.

You can report sick or injured birds of prey, gulls, swans, geese or ducks to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Do not approach or handle the bird yourself. If you have already touched the bird, please wash your hands immediately, along with any surfaces you may have made contact with.

If you have found a sick or injured bird, please follow the advice from the RSPCA.

The RSPCA website carries information on what to do if you find a wild bird from a smaller species.

If you keep poultry or other birds

Following ongoing monitoring, bird flu risk levels have been reduced and the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone housing measures for poultry and captive birds in England and Wales has been lifted. This means poultry and other captive birds no longer need to be housed and can be kept outside, unless they are in a Protection Zone.

All bird keepers must continue to take extra precautions (including pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock). If you intend to allow your birds outside please check the latest information about bird flu and biosecurity measures on the GOV.UK website

Wash and clean your hands before attending to your bird and keep them housed as much as possible to reduce the risk.

Keep a close watch on your birds for any signs of disease and seek prompt advice from your vet if you have any concerns.

Read more about how to spot the signs of Avian Influenza (bird flu) on the GOV.UK website

Bird flu is a notifiable disease in poultry and other captive birds.

If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. 

If you do not report it, you’re breaking the law.

When to seek medical advice

Call a GP or NHS 111 if you experience any symptoms of bird flu and have visited an area affected by bird flu in the past 10 days. Your symptoms can be checked over the phone.

Additional information

Read more about Avian influenza (bird flu).