THE first man in Britain to catch a strain of bird flu has been named as Alan Gosling, who looks after wild ducks in his home.

Alan's daughter-in-law Ellesha Gosling, 26, says the 79-year-old contracted avian flu in Buckfastleigh, Devon.

She said he was ordered to test for the disease after a local flock of 160 local ducks came up positive and were culled last week.

Local duck expert Alan helps looks after Muscovy ducks in the town - and eventually took them into his home.

Ellesha and husband Richard Gosling, 47, said they have been unable to see their relative since the outbreak.

The Health Security Agency yesterday (Thursday) confirmed a case of avian flu in the South West.

And Ellesha, a mum-of-one, said the family are "in shock" at the news - and are finding it hard to process.

Ellesha said: "The past couple of weeks have been hell for this family. He saw all of his ducks killed, and they were like his closest friends.

"He is often on the phone to us, asking what the doctors have said - but we can't answer questions we don't know the answers to."

Ellesha said Alan first began to notice several ducks of his huge flock becoming sick a few days before Christmas.

The Muscovy ducks originally lived in a public area near Alan's home.

He started to feed them, eventually becoming friendly enough over a number of years that he was able to bring them to his property to live with him.

After DEFRA and APHA got wind, more than 100 ducks living outside Alan's house on his property were culled in a bid to prevent the spread, shortly after Christmas.

Despite pleading against it, the 20 ducks which lived inside his home with him were culled on New Years Day by a team in Hazmat suits.

Ellesha says several swabs have been taken from Alan although all of the results had not yet been confirmed to the family.

They were told a test for the general flu virus had come back positive, and one of the tests for avian flu virus had also come back positive.

The strain one of the tests showed positive for was the H5N1 strain, but three of the avian flu tests had come back negative, leaving the family uncertain.

While the outside of the property has been partially cleaned, the family say the interior of the property remains contaminated until he is confirmed to be no longer infectious.

The family are keen to see the inside of the property cleared of contamination as they fear his condition could worsen, but say this has not yet taken place despite their pleas.

They say they have been told the cleaning of the inside of the house will have to be paid for by Alan - a further blow for the retiree.

They are now in limbo, unable to support him or visit him as he mourns the loss of his pets, while worries over his health remain.