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Deadly bird flu strain confirmed in the UK

Date Published: 06/04/2011

Scientists have confirmed that a swan found in Scotland had died of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu, making it the UK’s first case of the virus.

The announcement was made at 13.20 today after staff at the EU’s bird flu laboratory in Surrey worked through the night to test samples taken from the swan.

A 3km protection zone has been thrown up around Cellardyke, in Fife, where the bird was found eight days ago. In addition a 10km surveillance zone has been established.

Poultry movement in the protection zone has been halted and all poultry in the area must be moved indoors.

COBRA, the government’s national emergency committee has met to discuss the issue and will decide on any further measures considered necessary, as well as reviewing the UK’s contingency plans.

Anyone who finds a dead swan, duck or goose, or three or more dead wild or garden birds together, are advised to contact the DEFRA helpline, on 08459 335 577.

Organic farmers who are unsure of how to manage their birds to the organic standards in the event of a shut-in order should contact their certification body.

Speaking in Northern Ireland this morning, Prime Minister Tony Blair stressed that people should not panic and that humans are only at risk from the virus if they are direct and intensive contact with poultry.

He emphasised that H5N1 was not a human-to-human virus.