Tests confirm deadly bird flu strain

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The Independent Online

The swan which died of bird flu in Scotland has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, the RSPB has confirmed

The swan which died of bird flu in Scotland has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, the RSPB said today.

The dead bird was discovered last week on a harbour slipway in the coastal village of Cellardyke in Fife.

Further tests were carried out today to confirm if the swan had the strain which can be fatal to humans.

Dr Paul Walton, species and habitat policy officer for the RSPB, said at Cellardyke Harbour: "We've heard from government scientists that it is confirmed H5N1, which is the same type as has been spreading westwards across Europe in recent months."

Dr Walton added: "The critical thing to remember is this doesn't mean we've got a human pandemic of flu that has arrived in this country.

"In fact the risk to public health is still very, very low indeed.

"It's very unlikely that anyone will be likely to catch it from birds. There's been no cases from anyone worldwide catching it from a wild bird and in order to contract it you need lots of contact with infected birds and the fluids they excrete."

Peter Kendall, President of the National Farmers' Union, said: "This is an unwelcome but certainly not unexpected development.

"All of the contingency plans that we have for Avian Influenza (AI) have been drawn up on the basis that the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain would reach the UK sooner or later.

"So we are well prepared and we fully support the action that the Scottish Executive and the Chief Veterinary Officer are taking."

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