First Brit infected with deadly bird flu identified – as family says they’ve been through ‘hell’

The family of the first British person to contract a deadly bird flu say they have been “going through hell” since the outbreak.

Alan Gosling, who is caring for mallard ducks at home, has contracted bird flu in Buckfastleigh, Devon, his family said today.

Alan Gosling contracted bird flu in Devon


Alan Gosling contracted bird flu in DevonCredit: SWNS
Alan's two ducks that he looks after at home


Alan’s two ducks that he looks after at homeCredit: SWNS

Alan’s daughter-in-law, Ellesha Gosling, 26, said the 79-year-old was asked to be tested for the disease after a local flock of 160 ducks tested positive and were culled last week.

Duck expert Alan helps take care of the Muscovy ducks in town – and eventually gets them in.

But Ellesha and her husband Richard Gosling, 47, said they have not been able to see their loved ones since the outbreak.

Ellesha said: “The past few weeks have been hell for this family. He watched all of his ducks get killed, and they were like his best friends.

“And now he is stuck at home alone while tests are conducted to find out if he has the disease – and we have yet to confirm the results.

“He called us regularly, asking what the doctors had said – but we couldn’t answer questions to which we didn’t know the answers.”

The Health Security Agency (HSA) today confirmed a case of bird flu in the Southwest region.

Ellesha said Alan first started noticing that some of the ducks in his huge flock were sick days before Christmas.

The original Muscovy ducks lived in a public area near his home.

He started feeding them, gradually becoming friendly over the years so he could bring them back to his property to live with.

After DEFRA and APHA learned of his close relationship, and they were chosen to stop the spread, shortly after Christmas.

Ellesha, from Cranbrook, Exeter, said: “It devastated him.”

While the exterior of the property has been partially cleaned, the family said the inside of the property remains contaminated until he is confirmed free of infection.

The family is keen to see the inside of the property cleaned of contamination as they fear his condition may deteriorate, but say this has yet to happen despite their pleas.


They say they have been told that cleaning inside the house will have to be paid for by Alan – another blow for retirees.

This disease – also known as avian flu – is commonly found in poultry and wildfowl but rarely spreads to humans.

To date, there have been no recorded cases of the particular strain in the UK.

According to the World Health Organization, the human mortality rate is about 53%.

One source said the case of a man from the Southwest was picked up after a routine surveillance check was found for infection in his flock.

He is currently in home isolation, with a source saying contact tracing has been completed and there is no evidence of further transmission.

They added: “The risk to the public is very low. The incident was found to be part of our surveillance system for avian influenza because this is something we need to take very seriously.”

Recent outbreaks in the South West were reported last month near Newent in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, Buckfastleigh in Devon, Swindon in Wiltshire and Pokesdown in Dorset.

Other domestic cases were also confirmed in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Essex, Leicestershire, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cumbria, Cheshire, South Suffolk and Norfolk.

Symptoms of bird flu:

Call your GP or NHS 111 if you experience any symptoms of bird flu and have visited an area affected by avian flu in the past 10 days.

The main symptoms of bird flu can come on very quickly and include:

  • very high temperature or feeling hot or shivering
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • cough or difficulty breathing

Other early symptoms may include:

  • diarrhea
  • diseases
  • stomachache
  • chest pain
  • Bleeding nose and gums
  • conjunctivitis

It usually takes three to five days for the first symptoms to appear after you are infected.

Within days of symptoms appearing, more severe complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome can develop.

According to the NHS, no person in the UK has been infected with the four main types of bird flu – H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 or H5N8.

But there were cases of different strains more than a decade ago.

Professor Isabel Oliver, Chief Scientific Officer at the UK Health Security Service, said: “While the risk of transmitting avian flu to the general public is very low, we do know that some strains of the virus have the potential to spread to humans and that’s why we have systems in place to detect these early and take action.

“There is currently no evidence that this strain of virus detected in the UK can spread from person to person, but we do know that viruses evolve all the time and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

“We have tracked all of this individual’s contacts and have not identified any further transmission.

“It is important that people do not touch sick or dead birds, and that they follow DEFRA advice on reporting.”

Britain is currently facing its biggest outbreak of bird flu ever with more than 60 confirmed cases across the country since early November.

To help slow the spread, all owners have been ordered to keep chickens, ducks, geese and any other birds indoors.

Bird flu is a remarkable animal disease because it can spread to humans – and cause mass destruction of infected herds.

UK Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “While avian influenza is highly contagious among birds, this is a very rare event and very specific to the circumstances at this facility.

“We acted quickly to limit the spread of the disease at the site in question, all infected birds were humanely culled and the cleaning and disinfection of the facility is in progress. This is a reminder that strict cleanliness when keeping animals is very important. ”

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said: “Transmission of avian influenza to humans is rare because it requires direct contact between an infected, often dead bird and related individuals.

“It’s a risk for handlers, who are tasked with handling the flesh after an outbreak, but the virus is generally not contagious and poses little threat. It doesn’t behave like a disease. seasonal flu that we used to do.

“Despite the current heightened concern about the virus, there is no risk to the meat or eggs and no need for public alarm.”

To date, most human cases have been found in China and the Western Pacific.

But the mortality rate is high, with more than half of all recorded cases dying from the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been 863 human cases of the H5N1 virus since 2003, with 456 deaths.


Cases of infected poultry were also reported today near Eton University, where Boris Johnson, Prince William and Prince Harry are students.

The exact location has not been released but DEFRA said a “captive bird monitoring control area has been placed around the facility, spanning three kilometers, and all birds there will be culled humanely.” religion”.

It will alarm wildlife lovers as the 3km “killing zone” very close to Eton will cover the River Thames, home to hundreds of swans – legally owned by the Queen.

It comes after warning last month the UK’s veterinarian had warned of “extraordinary levels” of bird flu in the country after tens of thousands of farmed birds were culled.

An Avian Influenza Area was announced across the UK on 3 November before being expanded on 29 November with the added requirement that all captive birds be kept indoors. .

This was done amid concerns that wild birds that migrate from mainland Europe in winter are carrying the disease.

According to public health recommendations, the risk to human health from avian influenza remains very low and the food safety risk is low.

Alan looks after ducks at his home in Buckfastleigh


Alan looks after ducks at his home in BuckfastleighCredit: SWNS
Areas in the UK where bird infection prevention zones have been established


Areas in the UK where bird infection prevention zones have been establishedCredit: UKHSA
Turkeys removed from a farm in Suffolk during a previous outbreak


Turkeys removed from a farm in Suffolk during a previous outbreakCredit: PA: Press Association
Warning sign on the road leading to the farm infected in the previous outbreak


Warning sign on the road leading to the farm infected in the previous outbreakCredit: AFP
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