UK's first bird flu patient describes heartbreak after cull of 160 pet ducks

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Alan Gosling has been named as the UK's bird flu 'patient zero'. (SWNS)
Alan Gosling has been named as the UK's bird flu 'patient zero'. (SWNS)

The pensioner named as the first person in the UK to become infected with bird flu has been left "destroyed" after his entire flock of ducks were culled, his family have said.

Alan Gosling, 79, who has been named as the UK's bird flu 'patient zero', is now stuck inside alone after testing positive for the disease, sparking concerns from his family.

The father-of-three, from Buckfastleigh, Devon, took in a flock of local Muscovy ducks that originally lived near his home.

But after noticing some of them falling ill, the flock of 160 birds was culled in a bid to stop the spread of bird flu.

Doctors ordered Gosling to take a test for the disease and despite the H5N1 strain having never infected a human before, the results came back positive.

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His family say he has now been ordered to stay inside his home while further tests are being run.

His daughter-in-law Ellesha Gosling, 26, said: "The past couple of weeks have been hell. Alan told us when the birds were killed, it was the 'worst moment of his life'.

"The culling of his beloved ducks has destroyed him - it's broken him. It has been so stressful and an absolute nightmare for us as a family.

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"Both myself and my husband have had to take time off work to handle it.

"He has asked questions about his health and we can't answer any questions because we don't know any answers.

"He has told us he is not poorly, but he's really stubborn and we don't think he would tell us if he was. We are very worried.

"Not just because of the flu, but because those ducks were his closest family and he has just lost all of them at once and now he's stuck inside on his own. It has devastated him."

Gosling has been ordered to stay inside his home in Buckfastleigh, Devon while further tests are carried out, his family says. (SWNS)
Gosling has been ordered to stay inside his home in Buckfastleigh, Devon while further tests are carried out, his family says. (SWNS)

Along with the flock of ducks, Gosling's pet budgies and cockatoo were also culled.

He said: "I had kept my ducks for 20 years they were my family - they were my life. Before, I was never alone and now I'm stuck here with empty cages - it's like a morgue.

"I feel totally fine myself, that's part of the story - I'm just upset about losing all my ducks. It's torn me to pieces and broken my heart."

He added: "Apparently I have got the virus, as far as I can tell I have no ailments whatsoever.

"They’ve been taking samples for me so they can work out what to do to stop others from getting it. I'm quite pleased to be able to help them. They’ve taken sample after sample."

Gosling's family are pleading with authorities to disinfect the property but say they have been told he would have to pay for it.

A warning sign for avian influenza (bird flu) in Barkby, Leicestershire. Picture date: Sunday December 12, 2021.
Measures have been put in place across the country following a national outbreak of bird flu. (PA)

A press release shared by UK Health and Security Agency (HSA) has confirmed a case of bird flu in the South West of England, but has not named Gosling.

It said: "Bird-to-human transmission of avian flu is very rare and has previously only occurred a small number of times in the UK.

"The person acquired the infection from very close, regular contact with a large number of infected birds, which they kept in and around their home over a prolonged period of time.

"The risk to the wider public from avian flu continues to be very low. However, people should not touch sick or dead birds."

Across the country, some parks and enclosures have been closed in a bid to prevent a national outbreak of avian flu from spreading.

They include St James’s Park in central London, which has taken precautionary steps by saying it will move its famous pelicans to an alternative enclosure.

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