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Defra teams up with bird conservation groups for avian flu survey

by 5m Editor
12 October 2005, at 12:00a.m.

UK - A survey of wild birds across the UK is being carried out to allow scientists to get a better picture of avian influenza viruses in waterbirds.

Defra teams up with bird conservation groups for avian flu survey - UK - A survey of wild birds across the UK is being carried out to allow scientists to get a better picture of avian influenza viruses in waterbirds.

The survey builds on work carried out for the last three years to examine dead wild birds for the presence of a number of diseases.

Defra, which has a detailed contingency plan to limit the spread of and eradicate any potential outbreak of avian flu in poultry, has teamed up with ornithological and conservation groups to carry out the survey as part of a European-wide programme.

The plan, agreed by the European Commission, comes after reports that wild bird populations may have been involved in the spread of avian flu from China and Mongolia to Eastern Russia.

The risk of high pathogenic avian influenza reaching the UK via migrating birds remains low but Defra is working closely with the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation to monitor waterbirds for the infection.

Defra chief vet Debby Reynolds said:

"The risk of avian influenza spreading from eastern Russia to the UK via migrating birds is still low.

"However, we have said all along that we must remain on the look-out for the disease. This surveillance programme is important to maintain vigilance.

"Most of the work will involve the staff of ornithological groups and we are very grateful for their invaluable expert advice and experience. This is a new partnership for the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, with the focus on prevention better than cure."

Source: Defra - 11th October 2005

5m Editor