The first Briton to contract a deadly bird flu says he’s devastated by his beloved ducks being culled – but says he’s not feeling sick.
Father-of-three Alan Gosling contracted bird flu after befriending a flock of mallards before tending to them at his home in Buckfastleigh, Devon.
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 – of which 20 lived in his home.
The original Muscovy ducks lived in a public area near his home.
Duck expert Alan began feeding them, gradually becoming friendlier over a number of years so he could bring them home to live with.
Alan describes the past two weeks as “like a nightmare” and while he feels “fine” physically, he said he’s now gutted having to live without his precious ducks. .
The retired boatman said: “I’m perfectly fine myself – I’m just sad about what happened to the ducks. I’ve been with them for over 20 years so it’s a huge loss.
“They are my family – they are my life.”
Alan said he was checked repeatedly by the authorities – but did not feel ill.
“Obviously I had the virus, as far as I could tell I wasn’t sick at all,” he said.
“They took the sample for me so they could figure out what to do to stop others from taking it.
“I’m happy to be able to help them. They took sample after sample.”
The Health Security Agency (HSA) today confirmed a case of bird flu in the Southwest region.
Alan’s daughter-in-law, Ellesha Gosling, 26, said he first started noticing some of the ducks in his huge flock getting sick days before Christmas.
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.”
And divorced Alan, also a grandfather, has called the destruction of his duck flock “excessive”.
I’m perfectly fine myself – I’m just sad about what happened to the ducks. I’ve been with them for over 20 years so it’s a huge loss.
“I believe that not taking care of wildlife is one of the biggest problems of today and I always do my best to take care of wildlife,” he said.
“What happened to the ducks was at the top – I knew they would know what was going on.
“People don’t realize how smart they are, but how sweet they are. They used to sit on my slippers to warm me up before I put them on.
“Or I go downstairs for a cup of tea and a cookie – it’ll sit with them and give them some cookies too.
“The house was never empty and I was never alone. Now it’s like a morgue.”
Ellesha said the family was “going through hell”, adding that she and husband Richard Gosling, 47, have not been able to see their loved ones since the outbreak.
“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,” she said.
“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.
Symptoms of bird flu:
Call your GP or NHS 111 if you are experiencing 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
- cough or difficulty breathing
Other early symptoms may include:
- chest pain
- Bleeding nose and gums
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.
“He called us regularly, asking what the doctors had said – but we couldn’t answer questions to which we didn’t know the answers.”
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%.
A source said the case of a man from the Southwest was picked up after routine surveillance checks were 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.
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.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8164989/first-brit-infected-bird-flu-devastated-ducks-killed/ I am the first British person to contract the deadly bird flu