Bird flu case at Martin Mere reserve near Ormskirk

birdwatchers at martin mere Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands of birds pass through Martin Mere every year

A single case of bird flu has been confirmed at the popular tourist attraction, Martin Mere.

The H5N8 strain was detected in a greylag goose at the nature reserve near Ormskirk, in Lancashire on Friday.

Peter Morris, who works for the site, said it is "not a strain... that has ever transmitted to humans" and the centre remains open to visitors.

He said it had spread from Europe, adding: "This isn't a case of anyone closing or culling anything."

"We get up to 60,000 wildfowl - wild ducks, swans, geese, waders - a day on peak days in winter, of which one has died of avian influenza."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Martin Mere staff detected the bird flu strain in one greylag goose

Vehicle restrictions and disinfectant mats have been placed at the site's entrances and exits as precautionary measures. About 200,000 people visit Martin Mere every year.

"We are very, very mindful that a lot of people locally keep, or farm, birds or go to other nature reserves," said Mr Morris.

"So, we're making sure we stop anyone inadvertently transporting the disease in or out on their footwear, hands or equipment.

"We've taken all practical steps to separate wild birds from our collection of wildfowl.

"The government is relying on wardens at nature reserves including Martin Mere to be out at first light every day looking hard for unusual signs."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The flu has been detected in wild birds at different locations across Britain

The H5N8 strain has been found in about 40 wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales after circulating in Europe for several months, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In January, about 63,000 birds were culled at a Lancashire pheasant farm to prevent the spread of bird flu, which had already been found at two premises nearby in Wyre.

What is bird flu?

  • The most serious form of bird flu - known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) - is often fatal in birds. This includes H5N8
  • A less serious version - low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) - can cause mild breathing problems but affected birds do not always show clear signs of infection
  • The NHS website says no humans have been infected with bird flu in the UK

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