THE Isle of Wight branch of the RSPCA has had to close its doors to wild bird admissions following a suspected case of avian flu.

The team had to initiate a rapid response after a wild bird in their care displayed symptoms and had to be put to sleep.

A spokesperson said: "This one case although unconfirmed has had a significant impact on our entire animal centre and now requires the temporary closure of our facility for a few days while we complete a full deep clean of our isolation areas and monitor other birds in our care for any signs/symptoms.

"We recognise that it is extremely upsetting for all involved and for the public. These actions are to protect other birds in our care, and also humans and other mammals as there is a risk to all.

"In addition, branches and centres in the south coast (from Thames Estuary to the Isle of Wight) have received national guidance not to take in gulls from the south coast area due to the high zoonosis risk.

"This advice also urges all wild bird rehabilitators to liaise with their local vets which is critical, as sadly some seabirds may be unable to be admitted into care. Guidance is that wildlife centres without proper facilities and high levels of personal protective equipment for staff and volunteers should absolutely not be taking in these birds due to the high zoonosis risk.

"We hope to be re-open for admissions as soon as our isolation intake area is cleared to re-open and all the birds currently in our care are confirmed clear. This remains a rapidly evolving situation and we will issue further updates in due course. We thank you for your kindness at this difficult time."

What does the RSPCA say you should do if you find a dead or sick bird?

If you find deceased wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other deceased wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77, option 7).

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Phone a vet if you have concerns about a bird.

Where else can people go for advice on birds?

Well-known wild bird rescuer on the Island, Kay Ounsworth of IOW Wild Bird Rehabilitation (Mr 'Wally' Awol and friends) is currently unwell.

She had closed the doors to her sanctuary while she was poorly.

However, on hearing the RSPCA had closed, she said she would resume service.

She advises all casualties with obvious injuries should be taken to a vet.

She can advise on other bird concerns.

Find out more about Kay's work, how to contact her and how to donate, on her Facebook page by CLICKING HERE