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Confirmation of bird flu

06/04/2006

Tests from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) have confirmed that the sample from the swan found dead in Fife did contain the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus.

Scottish and UK officials are already undertaking an urgent veterinary risk assessment and consulting ornithological experts to consider the specific circumstances of this case and determine the level of any risk it may pose to poultry and other kept birds.

However, on the basis of a preliminary risk assessment it has been concluded that a GB-wide poultry housing requirement would be disproportionate.

In a statement, the Scottish and UK Chief Veterinary Officers said they are urgently considering whether there is a need for any regional measures in addition to those already put in place around Cellardyke where a Protection Zone of three kilometres and a Surveillance Zone of 10 kilometres is in force.

Further advice will be available once the full veterinary assessment is complete and this situation will be reviewed on a daily basis.

In the meantime a Wild Bird Risk Area has been established on 2,500 sq km to the east of the A90 and M90, stretching from Stonehaven in the north to the Forth Road Bridge in the south. Within this area all poultry has to be housed and, if this is not possible, separated from contact with wild birds.

The CVOs say there is no reason for public health concern; avian influenza is a disease of birds and whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty, to humans this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces.

Map of Fife within ScotlandEarlier, Scotland's CVO Charles Milne said there was no indication of infection in domestic poultry after the bird flu virus was found in a dead mute swan in the harbour at Cellardyke.

Mr Milne said if other dead wild birds were found in the area they would be sent for laboratory tests. The public should not pick up any dead birds but should instead report them to the police or through a special hotline - 08459 33 55 77.

He said the unringed swan had been reported on March 29 and collected the next day. It arrived at VLA in Weybridge, Surrey, on March 31 and preliminary results showing the H5 virus were first known on April 5.

Mr Milne confirmed that the dead swan had been partially eaten by predators, but there was no evidence to suggest domestic animals were involved. The protection measures included advice on pets.

He said the countryside remained open and there was no need for the public to restrict their movements.

Helpline
08459 33 55 77

Guidance on handling and disposing of dead garden and wild birds

If the dead bird is a single, small garden, or wild bird then you do not need to call the helpline.

You should:

  • leave it alone
  • follow the guidelines below for disposal

People should follow some simple hygiene precautions should minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds and the following simple steps are also effective against avian influenza.

If you have to move a dead bird

  • Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands
  • If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available
  • Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
  • Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag
  • Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
  • Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water
  • If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste
  • Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
  • Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
  • Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.

The Executive today brought legislation into force to deal with the finding of an H5N1 avian influenza virus in a dead swan in Fife. This legislation, the Avian Influenza (H5N1 in Wild Birds) (Scotland) Order 2006, implements European Commission Decision 2206/115/EC. It gives powers to establish a 3km Protection Zone surrounded by a 10 KM Surveillance Zone centred on the shore at Cellardyke where the wild bird was found. Within these zones Ministers can require biosecurity measures and movement controls on birds and poultry products.