15th December 2021
Statement by The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber regarding Avian Influenza H5N1
There have been many swan deaths as a result of an outbreak of Avian Influenza H5N1 throughout the country including the River Thames. If a sick or injured swan is seen or found, please contact your nearest swan rescue organisation for further advice. Although we have been advised that it is extremely unlikely that the virus can be transmitted to humans, we recommend that people avoid physical contact with all swans, especially sick ones.
In the winter months, swans are often hungry as river vegetation, which is their natural food source, is in short supply. It is most important therefore to continue feeding swans during the winter as hungry and weak swans may be more prone to infection from Avian Influenza and likely to die. Further, hungry swans may be more likely to move, potentially increasing the speed with which the virus is spread to other areas. Any feeding of swans should be carried out with the swans in the water.
We ask members of the public to observe government regulations regarding Avian Influena H5N1; these can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.