Avian flu has been found in a fox Powys this year, experts have warned - one of nine mammals known to have contracted the disease since 2021.

In total, nine otters and foxes have been found in the UK with bird flu, with only one case so far this year - in a fox in Powys - according to the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

The animals are believed to have eaten dead wild birds that were infected with the virus. Experts have said the risk to the public is low.

The first recorded case of avian flu in non-avian wildlife in the UK was a fox in Durham in 2021.

There were then seven cases of foxes and otters testing positive in 2022.

These were one fox in Cheshire, two otters in Fife, one otter on the Shetland isles, one otter on the Isle of Skye, and two foxes in Cornwall.


But the UK is still “a long way” from being in a situation where bird flu could infect humans and spread in a similar way to Covid-19, an Apha expert said.

Professor Ian Brown, scientific services director, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was evidence that the flu had now jumped to other species.

He said: “We’ve recently detected events both here and around the world, evidence that this virus can on certain occasions jump into other species.

“To be clear though, this is still a bird virus essentially, that wants to be in birds.

READ MORE: Warning issued after avian flu outbreak confirmed on Powys border

“These are wild mammals, animals that scavenge on sick and dead birds, and there’s a lot of dead wild birds at the moment due to the bird flu presence around the globe, and those animals are consuming and being exposed to very high quantities of virus and that’s leading to some spillover infection.

“What we don’t have any evidence of is that it can then go from fox to fox or otter to otter, so these are what we call dead-end infections.”

Asked about potential spread to humans, he said: “We need to understand the consequence of this infection. Does it make the virus change by jumping its host? We’re aware those events can sometimes lead to that.”

County Times: Bird flu has already been identified around Powys.Bird flu has already been identified around Powys.

Asked whether there was a possibility that bird flu could become a virus that infects humans like Covid-19, he said: “At the moment, we’re a long way from that.

“We’ve seen this jump, we’ve not seen maintenance in a mammalian species and, importantly, we haven’t seen a succession of changes in the virus that tell us it’s moving more towards a virus that can infect humans."

Earlier Prof Brown suggested there was no reason why the avian flu virus could not pass between otter and otter, for example.

He said: “We have to be watchful, which is why we’re enhancing our surveillance in the UK to make sure that we can track and monitor for these changes.