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'Indirect contact with wild birds' determined as Fife bird flu cause

An investigation has concluded the most likely cause of a Scottish bird flu outbreak was indirect contact with wild birds.

Alice   Singleton

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Alice   Singleton
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Poultry keepers are being urged to maintain good biosecurity to prevent further outbreaks
Poultry keepers are being urged to maintain good biosecurity to prevent further outbreaks

An investigation into the cause of an avian influenza outbreak in Dunfermline has concluded indirect contact with wild birds is the most likely cause.

 

The mild bird flu outbreak in Dunfermline earlier this year was contained and controlled and there have been no further cases of avian influenza in Scotland.

 

Good biosecurity

 

Following the results, poultry keepers across Scotland are being urged to maintain good biosecurity and remain vigilant for signs of the disease which is in constant, low level circulation in the wild bird population.

 

Scotland’s chief veterinary officer, Sheila Voas said: "Investigations have concluded that indirect contact with wild birds is the most likely source of the case of very mild avian influenza near Dunfermline.

 

"Tests also found it was a different strain of H5N1 to those previously seen on the continent."

 

It comes as the Scottish Government publishes a new five-year strategy aimed at further protecting animal health and welfare in the livestock industry.

 

Rural Affairs secretary, Richard Lochhead said Scotland is ’renowned for high standards of animal health and welfare’.

 

Safeguard animal welfare

 

He said: "They are the foundation of our £1.6 billion livestock industry which supports 35,000 jobs. We must therefore do all we can to safeguard animal welfare and protect ourselves from the threat of disease.

 

"Working with industry, Scotland has already achieved Officially Tuberculosis Free Status (OTF) for cattle, and reduced exposure to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in our cattle herds from 40 per cent to 12 per cent.

 

"This is alongside the excellent developments in traceability of sheep and pigs that have been achieved with the ScotEID system."

 

Achievements

 

But Mr Lochhead said the country cannot become complacent, despite all the industry has achieved.

 

"But we cannot be complacent – as demonstrated by the recent outbreak of very mild bird flu at a broiler-breeder unit near Dunfermline," he explained.

 

"It is thanks to the company and its private vet that the infection was caught at a very early stage which undoubtedly was a major factor in preventing its spread and ensuring it could be quickly stamped out."

 

“This isolated case highlights the importance of constant watchfulness and good biosecurity, and the need for individual keepers, industry and the authorities to continue to work together.

 

"The new animal health and welfare strategy set outs how we will do this over the coming months and years.”

 

Response

 

Ms Voas explained how the speed of response in identifying cases is crucial in controlling outbreaks of the disease.

 

She said: "As demonstrated in the Dunfermline case, the speed of response is absolutely crucial in containing and controlling infection when it does occur.

 

"The Scottish Government’s new animal health and welfare strategy published today will help ensure our livestock industry is as prepared as it can be for just such an eventuality and, even more importantly, is taking every available step to prevent an incursion in the first place.”

 

 

 


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