Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire nature reserve closes due to bird flu

Amwell Nature Reserve Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The trust which owns and manages Amwell Nature Reserve said it thought the disease had arrived with migrant birds

A nature reserve has been shut until further notice after wildfowl were found to have bird flu.

Amwell Nature Reserve near Ware, Hertfordshire, closed after advice from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust said four or five dead birds tested by Defra were confirmed to have avian flu.

A spokesman said: "Following advice [from Defra], the safest thing to do at present is to keep the reserve closed."

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust put up signs warning the public not to approach or touch birds

The trust, which owns and manages the Amwell site, said it thought the disease had arrived with migrant birds and it had put up signs warning the public not to approach or touch them.

It said it was a "bit of a fluid situation" at the moment but it was talking to Defra about when it could re-open.

On 18 January, Defra introduced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in England, which means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

It followed the discovery of H5N6 bird flu in 13 wild birds in Warwickshire, a few days after the same strain was thought to have been found in wild birds in South Dorset.

Public Health England has advised the risk to public health from H5N8 and H5N6 avian influenza is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said the disease posed no food safety risk for UK consumers.

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