OUR swans could be at risk of death following a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in England.

David Cash, of Worcester Swan Rescue, said about 25 Worcestershire swans had died.

He said:“The swans were looking lethargic and not wanting food, and doing a lot of coughing – it’s similar to the symptoms of Covid."

However the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have not confirmed any cases of avian flu in Worcestershire birds, yet.

Marilyn McCarthy of The Swan Food Project in Worcester said: "Yesterday afternoon all the swans between South Quay and Diglis were lively and active and appearing in good health.

"There have been dead swans in Evesham, but I have not heard whether Defra has confirmed bird flu as the cause.

"This strain of avian flu is reported as not affecting people. But take care and maintain good hygiene. Do not handle any sick or dead waterbirds. Never hand feed swans.

"Report clusters of dead swans to Defra Helpline 03459335577.

"There is no treatment for avian flu. Rescue centres are unable to take them in for fear of infecting existing patients. If swans have recovered from avian flu in the past, they may be immune.

"Please continue to feed swans to keep them as fit and healthy as possible. That's all we can do to help.

"And, of course, maintain good social distance when you are feeding the swans. Coronavirus is the great risk to us right now.

"It is very sad news that avian flu may be flaring up, and it may be that we will lose some of our swans. It happens from time to time, just as it does for humans."

Defra Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss said: “Following a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in England we have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease.

“It is important that bird keepers ensure they are doing all they can to maintain and strengthen biosecurity measures on their premises to prevent further outbreaks."

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises 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.