Wild birds blamed for deadly disease

16th November 2007
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Bird conservation groups have reacted strongly to suggestions that wild birds may be responsible for the latest outbreak of avian influenza on a free-range poultry farm in Suffolk.

The Government’s acting chief vet Fred Landeg has suggested that the most likely cause of the outbreak is migratory birds.

But, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) warned against pointing the finger at wild birds. Its conservation director, Dr Mark Avery, said wild birds had been wrongly blamed before when bird flu was discovered at a Bernard Matthews farm in February.

“If migrating wild birds were carrying bird flu, their corpses would have been found north and east of the UK, the routes that migrating wildfowl take. But there have been no recent reports of wild birds dying of bird flu in the countries on their migration routes,” said Dr Avery.

 “Jumping to conclusions over the source of bird flu could blind us to courses of action that should be taken. We can’t rule out wild birds as carriers but we’re not even close to knowing that claim is true,” he said.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007

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