Pilling Sands Cockle Fishery and Bird Flu

Information from Defra – Bird Flu Case in Lancashire, January 2017

“On 24 January 2017, a case of avian influenza H5N8 was confirmed in a commercial flock of farmed breeding pheasants at Pilling, Wyre, Lancashire. Some birds at the premises have died and the remaining birds will be humanely culled. We have put in place a 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Specific information about the restriction is set out in the Avian Influenza declaration, Lancashire (24 January 2017) (PDF, 511KB, 14 pages)”.

The Pilling Sand cockle fishery lies adjacent to the infected areas and within the 3km Protection Zone.

In order to minimise any risk of spread of contamination to wild birds in Morecambe Bay and elsewhere the NWIFCA strongly recommends that individuals take measures to disinfect vehicles (including ATVs), boots, clothing and fishing equipment prior to leaving the area.

NWIFCA ask that this practice extends to other areas such as the Dee Estuary, the Mersey Estuary, the Ribble Estuary, Duddon Estuary and the Solway Estuary, all areas of large winter aggregations of wild birds as good practice and as a precautionary biosecurity measure.

Defra advice on approved disinfectants can be found here:


Defra Advice for the Public

Public health

“Some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans, but this is very rare. It usually requires very close contact between the human and infected birds. Based on what we know about the H5N8 strain, the risk to public health is considered very low. There have never been any recorded cases of H5N8 in humans.

The Food Standards Agency advise that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat”.

More information on avian influenza in people is available from Public Health England.

Wild birds

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Defra then collect some of these birds and test them to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird. Defra publish a report (updated weekly) on findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) H5N8 in wild birds in Great Britain.

Further detailed information can be found through the Defra website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#biosecurity