A person in the south west has contracted bird flu.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has today (Thursday) confirmed the case of avian influenza in a human in the south west.

Bird to human transmission of avian flu is very rare and has only occurred a small number of times in the UK previously.

The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time.

All contacts of the individual, including those who visited the premises, have been traced and there is no evidence of onward spread of the infection to anyone else.

The individual is currently well and self-isolating.

The risk to the wider public from avian flu continues to be very low. However, people are warned not to touch sick or dead birds.

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.

Some strains of bird flu can pass from birds to people, but this is extremely rare.

It usually requires close contact with an infected bird, so the risk to humans is generally considered very low.

Human to human transmission of bird flu is very rare.

The 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.

In line with the highly precautionary approach UKHSA takes to identifying and stopping the transmission of avian flu, UKHSA swabbed this person and detected low levels of flu.

Further laboratory analysis revealed that the virus was the ‘H5’ type, found in birds. At this point it has not been possible to confirm that this is a H5N1 infection (the strain that is currently circulating in birds in the UK).

Based on the available evidence, the World Health Organisation has been notified.

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

Professor Isabel Oliver, chief scientific officer at the UK Health Security Agency, 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.”