Poultry industry relief

Poultry industry representatives are “cautiously optimistic” that the UK’s first case of H5N1 avian flu in a Whooper swan in east Scotland is an isolated incident.

“With over 1000 swans in Scotland now tested, and the only positive case being in a migratory bird, the poultry industry is breathing a sigh of relief,” said Richard Griffiths of the British Poultry Council.

“It’s been a hectic week, but we’re happy that the contingency plans have worked well. It’s fortunate that this seems to be an isolated case, but that makes it no less likely that it will happen again.”

The poultry industry is therefore urging producers and the public to maintain a high level of bio-security and vigilance.

“The NFU is advising its members to do everything possible to avoid attracting wild birds and to have plans in place to house poultry, should the need arise,” said a statement.

Despite all the media hype, there is also relief that UK egg and poultry markets have been almost unaffected.

“It is heartening that consumption seems to have held up well,” said NFU Scotland spokesman Peter Loggie.

Mr Loggie also said reports from on the ground showed that members were coping well with the enforced housing of all poultry in the area around Cellardyke where the dead swan was found.

Nine poultry producers are caught up by movement and housing restrictions in the 10km “surveillance zone”.

Another 175 producers are having to house some 3.1m birds, or at least take measures to isolate them, in the 2500km sq “wild bird risk area” set up along the east coast.

Of these, 45 producers with 260,000 birds are believed to be free-range or organic.

In France, meanwhile, steps have already been taken to lift some of the restrictions imposed following an outbreak of avian flu.
The authorities in the l’Ain and Saone-et-Loire departements, where H5N1 got into a turkey flock in February, will allow some birds back outdoors in ten days time.


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