THE spate of swan deaths at Hammond's Pond last month has officially been confirmed as a case of avian influenza H5N1, aka 'bird-flu'. 

A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said: "We are aware of a number of wild bird deaths in the Hammond pond area of Carlisle

"These deaths were investigated in January and two mute swans collected from the area have been found positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1," they said. 

The RSPCA ,at the time, followed guidance and reported the situation to the DEFRA, orchestrating the removal of the dead birds from Upperby Park.

This will be the fourth outbreak of bird flu to be confirmed within Cumbria following confirmations in the Copeland and Aspatria areas, and Lazonby in the Eden valley. 

The government has confirmed 80 total cases of avian influenza H5N1 in England amidst the recent outbreak, an increase of 19 cases since January 4. 

Yolanda Daniel, who has followed the journey of the cygnets from when they hatched, originally was worried that if it was 'bird-flu' it could be detrimental for the rest of the wildlife in the area.

"Every day I think about the remaining swans and wonder if they will breed again this year. 

"But I’ve been feeding the robins, blackbirds, and tits and they all seem to be fine which is a relief ," she said

News and Star: SAFE: The remaining birds at Hammond's Pond seem to be unaffected. Credit: Yolanda DanielSAFE: The remaining birds at Hammond's Pond seem to be unaffected. Credit: Yolanda Daniel

Park-goers, at the time, took to Facebook to express their sadness of the deaths of a family of swans that 'everyone cared for' - it's believed two of the original herd remain.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reminded the public that the avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

That being said however, if you come across a similar situation you are being advised not to touch or pick up visibly sick or dead birds. 

Signs to look out for in birds often include rapid increase in the number of birds found dead, swollen heads and drooping of the wings or dragging of the legs.

If you come across any dead waterfowl or other dead wild birds, you should contact the DEFRA helpline on 03459 335577.