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Man quarantined after found infected with deadly new variant of bird flu

UK confirms first human case of H5N1 bird flu

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Man who was living with 160 ducks said that several of his ducks fell ill a few days before Christmas.

H5N1 is one of the rare avian flu strains that has made its way into the human population.

Alan Gosling, a 79-year-old grandpa from Buckfastleigh, Devon, contracted the virus after an illness spread among his 160 Muscovy ducks.

Although he feels physically ‘fine,’ he is trying to come to terms with the fate of his flock, whom he describes as ‘like family.’

All of the animals had to be culled, including the 20 that lived in his home.

Mr Gosling said: “They were my family – they were my life. People don’t realise they are intelligent, but also so sweet.

“They used to sit on my slippers to warm them up for me before I put them on.

“Or I’d go downstairs and have a cup of tea and a biscuit – it’d sit with them and give them some of the biscuit too.”

In the UK, the elderly railway worker is the first human case of H5N1.

Since its discovery in the late 1990s, some 1,000 people have been identified with the strain, resulting in hundreds of deaths worldwide.

According to officials, bird-to-human transmission is extremely rare and poses little risk to the general population.

According to OIE data, Italy was the worst-hit country in Europe, with 285 outbreaks and over four million birds slaughtered as a result.

Wild bird migrations are a major source of transmission of the disease, which causes outbreaks to begin in the autumn.

H5N1 is one of the rare avian flu strains that has made its way into the human population.

Mr Gosling, who has quarantined himself at home, says he is ‘pleased’ to be able to assist scientists who have collected ‘sample after sample.’

However, he described his duck culling as “way of the top.”

Close personal contacts of the father of three, including visitors to his home, have been located, and there is ‘no evidence’ of infection spreading to others.

Due to the outbreak, Mr. Gosling has been unable to see his daughter-in-law Ellesha (26) and her husband Richard (47), as he must self-isolate to prevent further transmission.

Prof Mike Tildesley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, said: “This is clearly going to be big news but the key thing is that human infections with H5N1 are really rare and they almost always occur as a result of direct, long term contact with poultry.

“There has never been any evidence of sustained human to human transmission of H5N1 so at present I wouldn’t consider this to be a significant public health risk.”

Last month, a bird flu outbreak in northern Israel killed at least 5,200 migratory cranes and caused farmers to butcher hundreds of thousands of chickens as authorities struggle to contain the country’s greatest wildlife disaster in its history.

Image Credit: Getty

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