New alert in Britain over bird flu
As thousands of wild birds return to British
shores after spending the summer in the Arctic or in the Russian tundra, vets
and ornithologists are on the alert for a possible outbreak of the H5N1 strain
and other virulent forms of bird flu.
The areas deemed most at risk of triggering an outbreak are beaches, estuaries and other wetlands where gulls, geese
and waders gather in large numbers and which are near poultry farms. Britain
has stepped up its defences against the deadly strain of avian flu and plans to increase surveillance at the most likely disease hotspots.
Debby Reynolds, the Chief Veterinary Officer, has ordered intensive sampling of birds in priority areas, including the East of England coast, Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth in the North West, the eastern coast of Scotland and the South Coast.
Teams of wildlife experts are being enlisted for the testing programme. Live birds will be tested and then released, and dead birds found in hotspots and birds shot for sport or pest control will also be examined.
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