First person in Britain to catch bird flu strain looked after ducks at his Devon home

The first man in the UK to contract bird flu is Alan Gosling, who looks after wild ducks in his home.

Alan’s daughter-in-law Ellesha Gosling, 26, says the 79-year-old contracted avian flu in Buckfastleigh, Devon.

She said he was instructed to test for the disease after a local herd of 160 ducks returned positive and was culled last week. Local duck expert Alan helps look after the Muscovy ducks in town – and eventually takes them in.

Ellesha and husband Richard Gosling, 47, said they have not been able to see their relative since the outbreak.

The Health Security Agency (HSA) confirmed a case of avian flu in the Southwest region today (Jan. 6). And Ellesha, a mother of two, said the family were “in shock” at the news – and found it difficult to process.

She said, “The past few weeks have been hell for this family. He saw all of his ducks kill and they were like his closest friends.

“And now he’s stuck at home alone with tests being done to see if he has the disease, too – and we still haven’t confirmed the result.

“He often phones us and asks what the doctors said – but we can’t answer questions that we don’t know the answers to.”
Ellesha said Alan first noticed several ducks in his huge flock getting sick a few days before Christmas.

The Muscovy ducks originally lived in a public area near Alan’s house.

One of Alan Gosling's pet ducks

He started feeding her and eventually got kind enough over the years that he could take her to his property to live with him.

After DEFRA and APHA got wind of his close contact and they were sorted out shortly after Christmas to prevent the spread.
Ellesha of Cranbrook, Exeter said, “It devastated him.”

While the outside of the property has been partially cleaned, the family claims the inside of the property will remain contaminated until it is confirmed that it is no longer contagious.

The family is keen that the inside of the property be cleared of impurities as they fear its condition may worsen, but say that despite their requests, this has not yet happened.

They were told that Alan would have to pay for the interior cleaning of the house – another blow to the retiree.
The government has established a two-mile long captive bird control (surveillance) zone near Buckfastleigh as part of the disease-containment measures as part of an effort to tackle the UK’s largest avian flu outbreak of all time who infected one person in the southwest.

This means that records must be kept of all visitors to the premises where poultry or captive birds are kept and the entry and exit of birds and eggs.

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