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Suspected Bird Flu Outbreak in FIFE   - Wednesday, April 5, 2006



April 6th, 2006

Immediate release

RSPB Scotland is to carry out daily checks for sick or dead birds on a number of its east coast reserves following the confirmation of the highly pathogenic H5 avian flu in a sample from a dead swan found in Fife.

RSPB Reserves staff have been carrying out twice-weekly checks for sick or injured birds across Scotland since October - but these are now to take place every day at the society’s Vane Farm, Loch of Kinnordy and Loch of Strathbeg reserves.

“In the light of the events in Fife, we are now stepping up our bird monitoring work on our reserves, particularly those where swans and wildfowl are found.” said RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden.

“It has to be borne in mind that it is not unusual to find dead birds on nature reserves. Birds die all the time for a wide variety of reasons but our staff will be looking for anything suspicious that might indicate the presence of H5N1 – such as an unusually high number of dead birds in one particular spot. If they are concerned, they will then contact the relevant authorities whose representatives will remove the birds and take them away for testing.

“We would stress that H5N1 remains a disease of birds and not of humans. The only human cases have been among people who have had extremely close contact with birds, often with them living in their houses - as has occurred in China and Vietnam. People should continue to enjoy watching and feeding birds, exercising the usual health and hygiene precautions.

The RSPB will continue to monitor developments in Scotland and liaise with the Scottish Executive and other stakeholders as the situation develops. We have been in regular discussion with the Executive since last Autumn and have confidence in their contingency plans.”