Skip to comments.Avian Flu Kills Swan In Scotland
Posted on 04/05/2006 6:05:06 PM PDT by blam
Avian flu kills swan in Scotland
By Anil Dawar
A wild swan has been found dead from avian flu in Scotland. Preliminary tests found "highly pathogenic H5 avian flu" in a sample from the bird, the Scottish Executive said.
The bird was found near the coast in an emaciated condition, about nine miles from St Andrews, in Fife.
A two-mile exclusion zone was set up around Cellardyke while scientists continued to examine the bird to discover if it was carrying the H5N1 strain of the virus, which can be fatal to humans.
Poultry farmers and bird owners in the zone were told to make sure that their animals did not mix with wild birds and to keep them indoors if possible.
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said that if H5N1 was confirmed, ministers would have to make an immediate decision on whether all farm birds across the United Kingdom would be brought indoors.
A decision would also be made on whether restrictions would be imposed on the movement of goods from poultry to eggs.
Last night samples from the swan were sent for analysis to the European Union bird flu laboratory at Weybridge, Surrey. If the tests prove positive, it will be the first time the H5N1 strain has been identified in the wild in Britain.
Charles Milne, the chief veterinary officer for Scotland, said the discovery was a "huge development" for Britain.
Debby Reynolds: 'In a high state of readiness'
Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight programme, he said: "This is the first time that we have any indication that we might have highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 strain in GB. This has clear implications for our veterinary risk assessments and the action that we want to put in place over the next few days and weeks."
He said that farmers within the protection zone would be required to house their birds.
"We've got to consider vaccination right from the start and, indeed, we've discussed this today but we do not think that at this stage vaccination is the policy that we wish to pursue."
Debby Reynolds, the Government's chief veterinary officer, said: "We are already in a high state of readiness and I have every confidence that officials north and south of the border will work together to manage this incident successfully."
Prof Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist from Aberdeen University and a leading expert on bird flu, told the BBC: "I would be surprised if it was not the H5N1 virus but I would be happy to be proved wrong."
The H5N1 strain has killed more than 100 people, mostly in Asia, since 2003. However, it has not mutated to be able to transfer between humans. Prof John Oxford, the scientific director of Retroscreen Virology Ltd and professor of virology at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital, said: "You can imagine the swan as a piece of litmus paper. A dead swan will indicate that some wild bird such as a duck has silently infected it, so there will be other wild birds around that are H5 positive. It means the virus has arrived.
"However, it is still a big step away from a domestic chicken being infected or even a human but it could be the first step on a pathway."
The news comes on the same day that German authorities ordered the slaughter of 16,000 fowl on a farm near Leipzig after the H5N1 strain was found. It is only the second confirmed case in the EU of the lethal strain being found in domestic birds.
H5N1 was found in Britain last October in pet birds in held in quarantine in Essex.
Originally, ministers said it had been identified in a parrot but had to admit that a mesia finch was to blame as samples had been mixed up.
The H5N1 virus does not at present pose a large-scale threat to humans, as it cannot pass easily from one person to another.
However, experts fear the virus could mutate to gain this ability, and in its new form trigger a flu pandemic, potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.
The virus has so far caused the deaths of people in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam, all of whom were in contact with the faeces of infected birds.
Bird flu outbreak could remind of Katrina
After breeding and brooding they become reasonably neighborly. It would be a shame to have them disappear.
When those birds poop all over the place, wonder what the danger from that is?
Forgetting the human angle for the moment:
This is very bad news for bird lovers and bird watchers in Great Britain, not to mention the devastating affects for Poultry aficionados.
There are many unique and rare breeds of poultry in the British Isle, most owned by smallholders in the countryside. They have gone to great lengths to protect their domestic birds - but there is nothing they can do to protect their wild feathered friends from what may be a protracted and potentially catastrophic disease.
Considering the scope and diversity of species Avian flu affects - many with 90% death rate - this could mean that certain breeds of birds might be nearly wiped out.
I'm not even in Britain, but I'm already worried about my little hummingbirds who have gone missing this spring. I know it seems silly, but they should have been here by now. :P
If I'm this worried about some late hummingbirds here in States, I wonder how our bird-loving friends in Britain must feel...
Laugh if you want. I just know that some of us really care about what happens to birds! I care about what might happen to humans in the future too, but the birdies are in trouble with flu now...
Loved her in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She's changed a great deal since then. New career and all.
But seriously, the part about contracting this via bird feces, while not surprising, concerns me bit. I always have a great many birds either foraging or roosting on my property and my dogs are always in and out of the house. If this thing does migrate home, I'll have to consider a doggie litter box.
Yep, bird lover here too. I've had to pick up many dead Blue Jays and Crows at my place the last several years and I can't fathom what this virus would do to every bird species. It'd be very bad.
4/5/2006, 8:02 p.m. CT
By JUAN A. LOZANO
The Associated Press
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) The delayed response for medical help after Hurricane Katrina could be a mirror for the effects of a bird flu outbreak in the United States, officials at a medical conference said Wednesday.
"At the local level, the response (to a bird flu outbreak) is not going to be what it needs to be. While it will rise to the occasion eventually, it will require outside help, and it's going to take time for that help to get there," said Dr. Chris Farmer, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Farmer was one of several speakers Wednesday who addressed about 50 health care professionals at a conference on preparing for the bird flu. The two-day meeting was sponsored by the Texas A&M University Health Science Center Office of Homeland Security.
The hospital system in New Orleans was overwhelmed after Katrina flooded the area last summer. Just after the storm hit, patients had to be evacuated because Katrina left most hospitals inoperable. According to government auditors, New Orleans currently has 456 staffed hospital beds now, compared with 2,269 before Katrina.
The same thing could happen to a hospital system in a U.S. city hit by a bird flu outbreak, Farmer said.
"When you look at other hospitals across the country, (Katrina) was something that was on the six o'clock news," he said. "I just don't know how much these places have internalized (that) these things can happen where they are. It may not be a flood, but it may by avian flu. If your facility is overrun, what's the difference?"
Bird flu resurfaced in Asia in 2003 and has killed at least 108 people. It remains hard for humans to catch, but health experts fear it will mutate into a form easily spread among people, potentially sparking a pandemic.
While no cases have been reported in the United States, experts say it is only a matter of time before that happens.
The federal government says up to 90 million Americans would become sick with the virus and 2 million would die during a worldwide flu pandemic.
Paul Carlton, director of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Office of Homeland Security, said simple solutions, such as educating medical workers not to be afraid to treat patients or a new mask for employees, can help hospitals handle such an outbreak.
"I think our federal government is doing the things they need to do in terms of research, vaccination programs. But we're not as prepared as we can be, and that's what we're focusing on with this conference," Carlton said.
Bird flu is "not the boogeyman," he said. "We need to all understand it so that we're not frightened when the first case happens in the United States."
Col. Matthew Dolan, chief consultant for infectious diseases to the U.S. Air Force surgeon general, said response plans that were in place at different government levels when Katrina hit contributed to the slow response in offering medical and other help to victims.
"If developing separate plans was clearly recognized as wrong for Katrina, wouldn't we assume it would likewise not be the best answer for pandemic flu? I know there are people at the state and federal level struggling with how to put together the best answer. It's not something we should be paralyzed with fear in facing," he said.
When it comes to dealing with a potential bird flu outbreak, the situation is not hopeless, Farmer said. "Our ultimate success will depend on the spirit of humanity to rise to the occasion and do what they need to do," he said.
I have four outside dogs and have the same fears. I don't know what to do...They've never been inside and I don't want them in, geez...what to do?
Maybe a completely covered dog run?
Either that or learn about the joys of having ole Rover salivating 3ft from you while you're eating dinner or having Fido beat you to your favorite chair at the end of the day. Somehow it doesn't seem likely to me that you'll soon experience any of the latter. ;) Better go with the covered run.
Emergency committee meets today after Scottish farms quarantined
Thursday April 6, 2006
The Guardian (UK)
Scientists and vets were conducting urgent tests last night on a dead swan infected with bird flu that was discovered in Scotland. The Scottish Executive confirmed that the bird, found in a village in Fife yesterday afternoon, was carrying the "highly pathogenic H5 avian flu" virus.
Authorities immediately quarantined the area around Cellardyke, a small coastal village nine miles from St Andrews. A protection zone with a minimum radius of 1.8 miles (3 km) was set up, as well as a surveillance zone of six miles. In London, the Cabinet Office activated its emergency committee, Cobra.
Birdkeepers in the zone were instructed to isolate their flocks from wild birds by taking them indoors wherever possible, and measures to restrict the movement of poultry, eggs, and poultry products from these zones were put into effect.
Tests were being carried out throughout the night to determine whether the swan was carrying H5N1, the most lethal strain of the virus, which can infect humans. If it tests positive, the swan would be the first wild bird in Britain to be discovered carrying the virus. The executive said if the disease was H5N1 there might be more restrictions put in place, such as housing and movement controls. The chief veterinary officer for Scotland, Charles Milne, described yesterday's find as "an important development".
By coincidence, yesterday the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was conducting its first national emergency simulation of procedures in the event of a bird flu outbreak. The UK's chief veterinary officer, Debby Reynolds, said she had curtailed Exercise Hawthorn "to ensure that we can bring all our resources to bear on this situation". She added: "We are already in a high state of readiness, and I have every confidence that officials north and south of the border will work together to manage this incident successfully."
Tony Blair, was in Northern Ireland last night, and was informed by Scotland's first minister, Jack McConnell. A Downing Street spokesman said last night: "We will just have to wait to see what the morning brings. We have put our emergency plan into procedure."
The government has investigated 40 suspected cases of bird flu in the UK since January. Last month vets did urgent tests to determine whether 100 dead chickens at an Orkney farm were the first in Britain infected with the deadly strain.
In a statement last night, the Scottish Executive said: "Avian influenza is a disease of birds; whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty to humans, this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces."
John Oxford, professor of Virology at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London hospital, said last night that the virus could already have begun to spread elsewhere. "It doesn't look too good at this moment," he said. "It needs final confirmation from laboratory tests that it is H5N1 but the fact is it is H5.
You can imagine the swan as a piece of litmus paper. A dead swan will indicate some wild bird like a duck has silently infected it, so there will be other wild birds around that are H5 positive." Cellardyke is in the constituency of the Lib Dem leader, Sir Menzies Campbell. Last night, he said: "I have spoken to the minister, Ben Bradshaw, who told me there cannot be final confirmation until tomorrow."
I dont know how to link websites. Here is the website: http://highline.townnews.com/articles/2006/03/17/news/news2.txt
Here's what it says about the bird poop.
"Transmission: Feces (manure) are the most important source of avian influenza virus. Following infection a bird that recovers from the illness will pass live virus for 7 to 14 days and occasionally up to four weeks. High moisture and low temperatures will keep the virus alive up to several months when the conditions are ideal. Anything that can walk, crawl, fly or roll can transmit the virus from one place to another, and is probably the way it has been spread from one farm to another in Asia. It is probably the principal method of spread by wild birds to domestic flocks. Airborne infection can occur but aside from confined flocks is probably rather rare. Eggs and dead birds are quite infectious and must be handled with care.
Disinfection: Avian influenza virus is exceedingly sensitive to heat, drying, and almost all commonly used disinfectants. Heating a chicken house to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the virus in three hours. Drying the litter will kill the virus. Any detergent, formaldehyde, bleach, ammonia, all sorts of acids, iodine containing solutions are effective and reliable methods of killing the virus." Libertytimes article.
I think thats a read good idea someone had for those outdoor dogs. Covered dog run area.
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