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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 October 2005, 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK
Call to public over bird feeding
A robin
The public can help birds survive the winter, the RSPB says
Public concern over bird flu should not stop people feeding wild birds in their gardens, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has said.

The RSPB says putting out food will not put people at risk but urges sensible hygiene measures including washing hands after handling seed boxes.

It says the public have a valuable role to play in helping birds survive the winter by providing food and water.

Saturday's Feed the Birds Day marks the end of British Summer Time.

'No risk'

The society says it is aware of the concerns over bird flu, also known as avian flu.

At the moment the UK has a disease-free status and there are no known cases of humans contracting the disease from wild birds.

Wild birds are incredibly important in the lives of many people
Mark Avery

Director of conservation Mark Avery said 60% of the population already regularly fed birds in their gardens.

"Wild birds are incredibly important in the lives of many people," he said.

"The RSPB's Feed the Birds Day celebrates this special relationship and encourages everyone to feed garden birds.

"Our health is not at risk from feeding the birds in our gardens and the food supplied could help them through the winter."

On Wednesday, the European Union announced that the strain of the bird flu virus lethal to humans had been found in Croatia.

After tests in the UK, it was confirmed to be the H5N1 strain that has killed at least 60 people in Asia since 2003.

Officials are braced for an outbreak of the lethal strain in the EU, after it was recently discovered in Turkey, Romania and Russia.


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