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Expert advises farmers to prepare to move their birds inside in case avian flu hits the UK, and claims vaccination is premature

24.02.2006


With the spread of the virus across Europe, the Middle East and southeast Asia, the prospect of bird flu reaching Britain is becoming a reality. A leading scientist from the Royal Veterinary College, London, is available to comment on the potential spread of avian flu.



Professor Joe Brownlie, of the Royal Veterinary College, said it is important to house British birds inside where possible.

“To vaccinate the entire domestic stock would be premature because the current vaccine is not highly effective at reducing infection with Avian Influenza - and may complicate clinical diagnosis. Where possible chickens and other poultry should be moved inside where it can be done humanely and there is room in buildings to keep them comfortably.


“Where chickens cannot be kept inside they should be monitored carefully outside until a solution is found. It is not necessary to slaughter large numbers of chickens simply because they cannot be housed inside.

"From the evidence we have at the moment it is not if bird flu arrives - but when - and it is most likely to be from migrating wild fowl such as swans or ducks. Outdoor flocks should be housed indoors where possible but we need to be sensible. The risk of human disease is, at the moment, not serious. But, it is important that the public don’t touch wild fowl that looks sick or ill or dead. There is an understandable degree of over-concern, but it is important that people keep things in perspective - there have only been about 90 human deaths across many countries in two years - this appears to be the direct result of handling dead or diseased birds. We have no evidence of human-to-human spread yet."

Jenny Murray | alfa
Further information:
http://www.communicationsmanagement.co.uk

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