A FUND-RAISER to help the battle a bird flu outbreak in Stratford has more than quadrupled its target amount over the weekend.
Resident Sue Sutton launched the fund-raiser to raise £1,000 for Stratford-Upon-Avon Swan Rescue which is dealing with an outbreak of avian flu on the River Avon.
The target has more than quadrupled to over £4,200 since its launch on Saturday (November 6).
Swan rescuer Cyril Bennis has been trying to manage scores of sick and dying swans since a vet identified the infection in two cygnets nearly two weeks ago.
But Wychbold Swan Rescue Centre in Droitwich, where he normally takes sick and injured wildlife, was closed after the virus was confirmed by government environment agency DEFRA among birds in its care.
The agency officially confirmed the virus in Stratford on Friday (November 5).
Sue set up the fund-raiser after residents on social media showed concern for the rescuer – whose efforts have seen the town’s swan population flourish – and the heart-breaking situation.
Sue said: “I have known Cyril for many years. I know how tirelessly he looks after the swans and how devastated he is at this virulent outbreak of avian flu.
“I thought the fund would help to pay for things that he needs in the everyday care of all the birds on the river, the cost of emergency vet care and operations, and perhaps help pay for fuel for those who take the rescued swans to Wychbold swan sanctuary. I know it’s closed at the moment, but when it reopens it might need some sort of financial help.
“Most of all I think that so many people appreciate Cyril and his swan keeping that we, as a community could show him how much we care about him, and show him our appreciation. Stratford without swans would be a sad sight.”
DEFRA confirmed a highly infectious strain of avian influenza – known as A(H5N1) – in Stratford.
While the strain is extremely pathogenic among birds, the risk to human health is considered very low.
Stratford District Council is working with the government Animal and Plant Health Agency and the RSPCA to manage the situation.
SDC community spokesman Coun Christopher Kettle said: “The outbreak of avian flu in the wild bird population, including swans on the River Avon, is obviously of concern to residents.
“The UKHSA has made it clear that the risk of the disease transferring from birds to humans is considered to be very low. To ensure this situation remains, the advice we have received is that members of the public should not touch or go near sick or dying birds and any dead birds found should be reported to the district council to assist with disposal.
“The UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
“We are also looking to put up posters in the area to ask people not to feed the ducks or swans and remind people to keep to footpaths and to keep dogs on leads.”
Following several detections of avian influenza in wild birds elsewhere, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across the whole of Britain has been declared to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.
This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/farming/animal-health-advice/2 for advice.
Anyone who sees sick wildfowl should contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. Dead wildfowl in Stratford can be reported to SDC on 01789 267 575 in office hours and 01926 339 577 out of hours.
Click here to donate to the fund-raiser.