27th March - UK: A MOTHER living on a starling-infested estate is making her son wear a mask to clean bird mess off their car Ė because of bird flu fears.
Since thousands of starlings descended on Lutterworth's De Verdon Road estate, Claire Hensey has made her son Daniel (10) wear a mask and rubber gloves to clean droppings off the family motor.
Every day between 5.30pm and 6pm, thousands of starlings swoop in to roost on trees and aerials, raining droppings on anyone caught outdoors and making pavements slippery with mess.
The Department of Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (Defra) says although bird flu cannot be transmitted between humans, there is a risk from ingesting or inhaling the faeces or blood of infected birds.
Mrs Hensey said: "We've got chickens as well, so if anybody is going to get bird flu, we are.
"We wanted to be extra careful, because kids and adults under 30 are particularly prone to it.
"Also, we don't even know what's in the bird mess. If it's acidic to cars, you don't know what it can do if you breathe it in.
"Since the bird flu scare we've got Daniel to wear the mask and gloves when he cleans the car or the chickens."
Mrs Hensey said she does not allow Daniel or her other children, Jayson (12), Paige (8) and Kari (4) out when the birds are about.
She said: "We're keeping the kids in because we don't want them to get messed on.
A spokesman for Defra said more than 3,500 dead birds had been tested since October and so far avian flu had not been found.
He recommended people keep poultry feed and water undercover to reduce the chance of wild birds messing in it and advised people to wash their hands after coming into contact with bird muck.
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said British starlings and large numbers of their northern European cousins are converging in warmer urban areas because of our cold winter, which has also delayed their migration.
The foreign birds are due to migrate in several weeks, while British populations will disperse to their localised breeding grounds.