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Council issues updated advice as bird flu deaths continue to rise on Aberdeenshire's coastline

By David Porter

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Dead seas birds continuet to be found on Aberdeenshire and Moray coastlines - this Gannet was found at Cullen. Picture: David Porter
Dead seas birds continuet to be found on Aberdeenshire and Moray coastlines - this Gannet was found at Cullen. Picture: David Porter

A significant number of suspected Avian Influenza cases have been reported around the Aberdeenshire coastline with gannets in particular being susceptible according to notes of dead birds being found.

Balmedie in particular has seen considerable numbers, with a count and clean up on Sunday by trained volunteers finding 95 seabirds of all ages, including 62 gannets, 27 guillemots two razorbills, three herring gulls and one kittiwake.

Aberdeenshire Council has updated public guidance, which comes in the wake of a call for an update from local MSP Gillian Martin.

A spokesperson commented: "While we appreciate that the summer holidays have just begun and thoughts will turn to heading for our fantastic beaches, we must advise of a number of suspected new cases of Avian Influenza which have sadly claimed a significant number of seabirds in recent days.

"Please be assured that while our beaches remain safe and the threat of transmission to humans is very low, it is still important that you follow this safety advice-

• Do not pick up or touch dead or sick wild birds

• Keep pets/dogs away from any dead or sick birds

• Don't feed wild waterfowl

• Don't touch wild ird feathers or surfaces contaminated with droppings

"Working alongside partner agencies, Aberdeenshire Council will be installing warning signs at known locations where Avian Influenza has been reported and teams will be monitoring these areas.

"But with limited resources and a lengthy coastline, we do appreciate your help in identifying potential cases.

"We would urge anyone visiting Aberdeenshire’s beaches and wider coastline to remain vigilant and report any dead birds to Defra’s national helpline on 03459 335577.

"We will be aiming to have any reported cases of deceased birds removed as quickly as possible and fully-trained staff from Landscape Services will prioritise removal of birds from areas of high footfall where there is safe access.

"If you come across a grouping of 10 or more dead birds please also call our own dedicated phoneline on 01467 537444.

"If you find a live but sick bird call the SSPCA on 03000 999999.

"If you keep poultry or other birds, it is vital that you wash your hands and clean and disinfect your footwear before tending to your birds.

For more details on avian influenza, visit www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/

The risk of transmission from dead birds to humans is considered to be very low.

There are other diseases however, that can be picked up from dead animals, so the advice remains to stay away from carcasses and to keep dogs/pets under control and away from them.

There are limitations on how quickly birds can be removed due to the extensive coastline within Aberdeenshire and the number of operatives with face fitted masks that are available.

There remains however, advice from Defra to report dead birds to them. This advice is as follows:

Where there are three or more wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), three dead birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of any other species (including gulls) at the same place at the same time, this should be reported to Defra’s national GB telephone helpline.

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