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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic; Now tracking the Aussie Flu.

New bird flu fears as virus found in dead swans

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    Posted: January 10 2008 at 6:11am
    1.30pm GMT

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New bird flu fears as virus found in dead swans


Jo Revill, Observer chief Whitehall correspondent
Thursday January 10, 2008
Guardian Unlimited


Abbotsbury Swannery, in Dorset. Photograph: David Mansell



Three dead swans found on a nature reserve in Dorset were today found to have been carrying the lethal strain of bird flu, sparking fears that the virus had again landed on Britain's shores.
Urgent tests were under way to check the other birds and ducks at the swannery in Abbotsbury, where the dead mute swans were found in the past 48 hours.

The department for the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) was expected to issue a statement later this today to confirm that the H5N1 strain had been found in the birds.


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The latest cases, coming after an outbreak at the Bernard Matthews factory in Suffolk last year, will particularly worry experts because the pattern suggests the infection may have come from wild birds.
In previous cases, human errors such as contaminated transport or feed were found to have caused outbreaks of the disease in birds.

The mute swans had not migrated into Britain - when they do fly, they normally travel very short distances. It appears likely they caught the virus from other wild birds or ducks that came into the swannery for the winter months.

Tests being carried out at government laboratories will reveal whether the birds had a highly dangerous form of the virus, categorised as "low pathogen" or "high pathogen".

Bird flu currently remains a disease that affects poultry, but there are fears that, if it mutates, it could turn into a form that is highly contagious to human beings, and form a flu pandemic.

The Abbotsbury swannery is a highly popular visitor attraction in the summer, and was originally set up during the 1040s by monks in Dorset who regarded swan meat as a great delicacy.

Close to the south Dorset shore, it consists of different pools in which swans can feed and breed. From mid-May to late June, hundreds of fluffy cygnets hatch from eggs in nests on or near the pathways.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2008 at 10:32am
Bird flu confirmed in mute swans in S Britain
www.chinaview.cn 2008-01-11 00:46:52   Print

    LONDON, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Three mute swans in south Britain's Dorset have been confirmed dead with the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu, according to a statement from Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on Thursday.

    The swans' carcasses were found following routine surveillance, DEFRA said, adding that a Wild Bird Control Area and Monitoring Area has been set up around the Swannery and bird owners must isolate their flocks from wild birds within the zone.

    Efforts have begun to test other birds at Abbotsbury Swannery, a sanctuary located 9 miles from Weymouth, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Thursday.

    Fred Landeg, acting Chief Veterinary Officer, said, "Our message to all bird keepers, particularly those in the area, is that they must be vigilant."

    DEFRA spokeswoman Linda Scott said, "Government vets have been testing them for avian flu for the last two days."

    Culling of wild birds has been ruled out because experts fear this may disperse birds further.

    The discovery in Dorset is the latest in a series of bird flu cases in Britain.

    In November 2007, around 5,000 birds were slaughtered after theH5 strain of avian flu was confirmed in turkeys at Redgrave Park Farm, Suffolk.

    Previously, a strain was found in chickens at a Norfolk farm in April 2006 and the month before that the deadly H5N1 strain was found in a dead swan on the Fife coast. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2008 at 10:34am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2008 at 10:36am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote web ferret Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2008 at 12:00pm
No big deal this.  What would be news is if there are more reports of dead birds and there was evidence of it being widespread in the bird population.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote July Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2008 at 5:57am

No reason to worry - swannery staff

21 minutes ago

A worker at the reserve where three wild swans have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu said there was "no reason to worry" as staff began a course of drugs as a precaution.

Restrictions on the movement of captive birds are in place following the discovery of the dead swans at the Abbotsbury Swannery, an open reserve in the Chesil Beach area of Dorset, during routine surveillance.

Two more dead swans were found along the Fleet lagoon on Thursday night but Abbotsbury Tourism Ltd general manager John Houston said this was nothing unusual.



They will be collected by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and sent for routine testing, but the results are not expected to be known for around two days.

Mr Houston said: "It's not unusual for birds to die in the winter of natural causes. In fact, there are less dying at the moment than normal because it's quite warm. Until I hear otherwise I am going to assume the best."

An average of 20 to 30 swans usually die in January, Mr Houston said.

Twelve members of staff at the swannery are to be given a basic flu jab. They have already begun a 10-day course of Tamiflu tablets. They include three full-time workers - swan herder David Wheeler and his assistants.

"There's no reason to worry," said Mr Wheeler. "Having said that, we could lose one or two more, you can't predict. We know that swans can be susceptible. We are just coping with the situation that has occurred.

"I didn't sleep a wink the night before last. I was just worried about the birds. We have known about it for years. We have been monitoring and we realise it could come at any time. We certainly didn't want it to come, it's not good news, but we are going to deal with it."

Mr Houston said the injections were just a precaution and that the Health Protection Agency had given assurances there was "almost no chance" of anyone catching the virus. He said the site was self-disinfecting, with the tides helping to keep the site hygienic.


2008 The Press Association.


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More dead swans found along Fleet

TWO more dead swans have been found along the Fleet amid a bird flu alert.

But staff at Abbotsbury Swannery say there is no cause for alarm.

Three swans there tested positive for the H5N1 strain yesterday.

Abbotsbury Tourism general manager John Houston said an average of 20 to 30 swans usually die at the swannery every January.

He said: "It's not unusual for birds to die in the winter of natural causes.

"In fact, there are less dying at the moment than normal because it's quite warm.

"Until I hear otherwise I am going to assume the best."

The animals were collected by Defra today and taken for testing at the department's lab in Taunton.

The result should be known at the end of the weekend.

The swannery will be given the all-clear after 21 days if no birds have tested positive for the virus.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote July Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2008 at 5:59am
France raises bird flu alert
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21:26, January 11, 2008




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France has elevated its bird flu risk alert from "weak" to "moderate" on all of its territory, according to an order issued by the French Agriculture Ministry Friday.

The decision was made after the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain was discovered Thursday in three dead swans in the southwest of England, according to the ministry.

There are six levels of risk in France: unimportant 1, unimportant 2, weak, moderate, high and very high.

The order took effect immediately, according to the ministry.

Domestic birds and poultry are being protected in an attempt to prevent contact with wild birds. There will also be stringent veterinary checks.

Source:Xinhua
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