A CASE of avian influenza, more commonly known as bird flu, has been confirmed in the South West.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed the case today (January 6).

It is not clear in which county the case was found.

The person caught the infection from close and regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a long period of time, the UKHSA has said.

All contacts of the person, including those who visited the premises, have been traced according to the UKHSA. 

The UKHSA explained there is currently no evidence that the infection has spread to anyone else. And that the individual affected is currently well and self-isolating.

The UKHSA said the risk to the public continues to be 'very low'.

Professor Isabel Oliver, chief scientific officer at the UKHSA, said: “While the risk of avian flu to the general public is very low, we know that some strains do have the potential to spread to humans and that’s why we have robust systems in place to detect these early and take action.

"Currently there is no evidence that this strain detected in the UK can spread from person to person, but we know that viruses evolve all the time and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

"We have followed up all of this individual’s contacts and have not identified any onward spread.

“It remains critical that people do not touch sick or dead birds, and that they follow the DEFRA advice about reporting.”

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is a type of influenza that spreads among birds.

The UK has recently seen a large number of outbreaks and incidents of avian influenza in birds across the country of the H5N1 strain and APHA and the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer have issued alerts to bird owners.

This case was detected after the Animal and Plant health Agency (APHA) identified an outbreak of outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian flu in their flock of birds.

Their infection was identified through the routine monitoring which is conducted on anyone who has close contact with infected birds.

The infected birds have all been culled.

UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss added: “While avian influenza is highly contagious in birds, this is a very rare event and is very specific to the circumstances on this premises.

“We took swift action to limit the spread of the disease at the site in question, all infected birds have been humanely culled, and cleansing and disinfection of the premises is underway.

"This is a reminder that stringent cleanliness when keeping animals is important.

“We are seeing a growing number of cases in birds on both commercial farms and in backyard flocks across the country. Implementing scrupulous biosecurity measures will help keep your birds safe.”

Further laboratory analysis revealed that the virus was the ‘H5’ type, found in birds, the UKHSA has said.

At this point, they have added it is not possible to confirm if this is the H5N1 infection (the strain that is currently circulating in birds in the UK).

The World Health Organisation has been notified of the infection.

This is the first human case of this strain in the UK, although there have been cases elsewhere globally.