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Avian Flu


Following an increase in the number of detections of avian influenza in wild birds and on commercial premises, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across the United Kingdom. As of 17th October, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu.

Avian influenza (bird flu) mainly affects birds but it can also affect humans and other mammals and is a notifiable animal disease. The risks to humans from avian flu are low, but it is possible an outbreak in birds could at some point develop into a human flu pandemic which would be much more serious. In saying this, it is important not to over-react and to realise that avian flu may not lead to pandemic flu.


Wild birds live on the University campuses, in particular in the vicinity of the Whiteknights lake and on University farmland. Anyone finding 3 or more dead waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks) or a group of 5 or more dead birds of other species on the University campus should telephone the University of Reading Security Services on Tel. 0118 378 6300.

 Government advice is not to touch any dead birds. If you do accidentally touch a dead bird, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible. Avoid touching your face and do not eat until you have washed your hands. Clean any soiling on clothing with soap and water.


Report  sick or dead birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs. More information is available on the Defra web site at

The risk of avian flu to staff or students visiting countries affected by avian flu is believed to be very low. There is no reason not to travel to these countries. Those visiting or living in countries affected by avian flu should follow sensible precautions. If visiting countries with reported outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu among poultry, observe the guidance outlined in SN37  


You can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading any form of 'flu by:

• Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue where possible.

• Using tissues only once when coughing or sneezing and disposing of them promptly and carefully in a waste bin (preferably bagged).

• Washing your hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to your face, or to other people.

• Avoiding touching surfaces (such as door handles) and then the face.

• Avoiding non-essential travel and large crowds whenever possible.

• Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g., kitchen worktops, door handles) frequently, using a normal cleaning product.

• Making sure children follow this advice.

For further information please visit:

Bird flu - NHS (

Relevant documents:

SN37 - Advice to staff and students on bird flu (Avian Influenza) and pandemic flu

PO, November 2022             


Contact details

Health & Safety Services

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  • 0118 378 8888 
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  • University of Reading

    Health and Safety Services

    Whiteknights House (W027)

    Room G23

    Shinfield Road



    RG6 6UR