WEST Sussex is a high risk area for Avian Flu, the area's trading standard team has warned.

This comes after several outbreaks of the disease in the UK.

As a result, compulsory restrictions for poultry keepers and owners of captive birds have been put in place across England by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

West Sussex trading standards team manager Peter Aston said: "Although the current outbreaks are not in West Sussex nor neighbouring counties, it is important that poultry keepers in particular take sensible steps to stop domestic birds mixing with wild ones.

"This includes, where practical to do so, not leaving food accessible to wild birds and netting runs.

"West Sussex is a high risk area for Avian Flu due to the number of estuaries and wetlands used by migrating birds. 

"For the sake of the commercial poultry and egg producers in the county, we really want to keep cases out of the farmed and domestic poultry premises.

"Sensible steps taken now can help achieve this."

Deborah Urquart, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for place services, detailed how the illness had been spread in the past.

The Argus: Three cygnets rescued after crash landing on the streets of York mingle with other birds at the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital, at Brandsby, near York

She said: “The disease almost always spreads from the migrating wild bird population and taking relatively small precautions now could have a major impact on stopping the virus entering the domestic poultry population."

Anyone who finds a dead swan, goose or duck, as well as other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, is being asked to report this to the Defra helpline by calling 03459 335577.

According to the NHS, Avian Flu, or Bird Flu, is "an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds".

"In rare cases, it can affect humans," the health service states on its website.

There are lots of different strains of bird flu virus. Most of them don't infect humans. But there are 4 strains that have caused concern in recent year; H5N1 in 1997, H7N9 in 2013, H5N6 in 2014 and H5N8 in 2016.

"Although H5N1, H7N9 and H5N6 don't infect people easily and aren't usually spread from human to human, several people have been infected around the world, leading to a number of deaths. H5N8 has not infected any humans worldwide to date.

"No humans have been infected with H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 or H5N8 bird flu in the UK – this includes the type of H5N6 virus recently found in humans in China. Plans are in place to manage any suspected cases.

"H5N8 bird flu has been found in some wild birds and poultry in the UK. H5N6 has also been found in some wild birds in the UK but is a different strain to that seen in China."