Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

First Brit struck down with bird flu ‘can’t stop thinking about ducks’

The first person to be infected by a current bird flu strain in the UK says he cannot stop dreaming of ducks.

Heartbroken Alan Gosling, 79, was tested for the virus after some of his 160 started falling down ill.

The dad-of-three, from Buckfastleigh, Devon, is believed to have caught the disease from flock which has since been destroyed.

Doctors then did tests to see if Alan himself had become infected despite the fact the H5N1 strain had never infected a human before – and came back positive.

The retired train driver is now stuck inside his home alone as he grieves his ducks – with his family growing increasingly concerned.

Alan said this morning (January 7) that he is feeling "absolutely fine – but very lonely."

He said: "As far as health is concerned, I'm fine, but I can't stop thinking about the ducks.

"I'm as fit and healthy now as I was donkeys years ago, because looking after the ducks kept me busy and active every day.

"By now, I would be back out with them, except I don't have any because they killed them all."

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Alan continued: "I can't believe it – some of them I had for 12, 13 years since they were tiny chicks and I hand-reared them.

"They all had different stories – and then I had to watch them being killed and I couldn't do anything to help them.

"At the moment, I don't know what to do with my days.

"Before I would always be outside with the ducks, cleaning them out, keeping an eye on them – they kept my days fully booked and that was how I liked it."

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"I keep turning it over in my head and when I go to sleep it's what I dream about – it never leaves my mind," the duck lover added.

"Maybe one day I'd like some more ducks, or other birds, but it'll never replace what I lost.

"Maybe one day, but for now I can't think about that – all I can think about is that they knew exactly what was going on before they were killed.

"The poor buggers were all killed with no thought for the animals."

Ellesha Gosling, 26, said her father-in-law was ordered to test for the disease after the flock of 160 ducks came up positive and were culled.

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A few days before Christmas, Alan began to notice several ducks of his huge flock becoming sick.

After DEFRA and APHA got wind of his close contact, and they were culled in a bid to prevent the spread, shortly after Christmas.

Alan’s pet budgies and cockatoo were also culled.

He has been told he must remain alone inside the contaminated property where the birds were killed while tests are being run.

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On Thursday a press release shared by UK Health and Security Agency (HSA) confirmed a case in the South West of England.

It read: "Bird-to-human transmission of avian flu is very rare and has previously only occurred a small number of times in the UK.

"The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time.

"The risk to the wider public from avian flu continues to be very low. However, people should not touch sick or dead birds."

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