Bird flu found in Dorset

Defra has today confirmed the H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza (AI) in three dead wild mute swans in the Chesil Beach area in Dorset

Defra has today confirmed Avian Influenza in three dead wild mute swans in the Chesil Beach area in Dorset, following positive test results from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency for the highly pathogenic strain of H5N1. These birds were found and tested following our routine surveillance programme.

A Wild Bird Control Area and Monitoring Area are being established around the premises, encompassing Chesil Beach and Portland Bill, and the shape of these is based on expert ornithological advice.

Inside these areas bird keepers are required to house their birds or otherwise isolate them from contact with wild birds, bird movements will be restricted, and bird gatherings are banned. Defra is also working closely with ornithological and other experts to consider what wider measures may be needed.

No disease has been found in domestic birds, and a programme of surveillance is being carried out in the local wild bird population. There will be no culling of wild birds because such action may disperse birds further and would not aid control.

Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Fred Landeg said: "While this is obviously unwelcome news, we have always said that Britain is at a constant low level of risk of introduction of Avian Influenza. Our message to all bird keepers, particularly those in the area, is that they must be vigilant, report any signs of disease immediately, and practice the highest levels of biosecurity."

A full epidemiological investigation is underway. All poultry keepers on the GB Poultry Register are being notified, and the EU Commission has been informed.

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