- ProMed Mail
By Valerie Elliott, Rory Watson and David Rose
The Times - UK
- A ban on the import of all captive birds from around
the world plus a ban on all bird fairs, exhibitions and shows to protect
Britain and Europe from the deadly avian flu virus is to be in place within
- News of the tough new controls emerged as the EU food
safety agency warned consumers to avoid raw eggs and to cook poultry thoroughly.
Herman Koeter, the agency's deputy chief, said last night [25 Oct 2005]
that the possibility of the virus being transmitted through food could
not be discounted.
- Signs of the virus were found yesterday [25 Oct 2005]
in 2 dead migratory birds at a lake in Neuwied in Germany, although the
bodies of another 23 birds found at the same location did not contain any
- See map
- Further tests are needed to confirm the deadly strain,
but the discovery provoked alarm throughout the EU. If positive, it would
bring the disease in migratory birds to the heart of the European mainland.
Many EU states last night [25 Oct 2005] were poised to follow the action
of the French and order all poultry and game birds to be locked indoors.
- The order applies to farms in 21 French departments to
protect them from the threat of migratory birds. Hunters were also banned
from using live birds as bait amid fears of contact with migratory birds.
There was no sign yet that the British Government would do the same.
- Margaret Beckett, the Rural Affairs Secretary, is to
make a statement to the Commons today [26 Oct 2005] to outline the emergency
measures being introduced throughout the country and the European Union.
- This includes a ban on the commercial import of exotic
birds, such as parrots, as pets. These were considered the main threat
of carrying the disease, because 232 000 exotic pets and birds have been
brought into the EU in the past 3 months.
- EU veterinary experts believe the threat of the spread
of the flu virus via bird imports is greater than the threat posed from
a black market in wild captive birds.
- Ministers have allowed individuals to import exotic birds
to keep as pets. They will be subject to strict rules, and each owner will
be restricted to a maximum of 5 birds. The birds must also pass veterinary
health checks and have spent 21 days in quarantine before leaving the country
- The bans on trade and bird gatherings are being introduced
as a temporary measure to ensure there is no risk of avian flu spreading
after the 1st case of the virus found in a parrot from Suriname, which
mingled with birds from Taiwan at an Essex quarantine station. If the parrot
had not died in quarantine last week [3rd week October 2005], the bird
consignments would have been allowed on general sale in pet shops today,
30 days after they were allowed to mix, according to dates disclosed by
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
- The precise chain of events remains muddled, and it is
clear government vets are not yet certain about the facts. They are also
still trying to ascertain whether the virus was at the quarantine center
before the arrival of the birds from Suriname, and also which bird became
infected 1st. It was also unclear last night [25 Oct 2005] whether experts
at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency conducting the tests had the necessary
tissue samples from all the birds in question.
- It emerged yesterday [25 Oct 2005] that staff at the
Pegasus shop were expecting a delivery of orange-winged Amazons, believed
to be the species of the infected parrot. Another Essex bird trader said
she had been promised they would be available this month.
- The 1st casualty of the ban on bird gatherings is this
weekend's Countryside Live Fair at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate,
where the poultry and pigeon section was cancelled after a ruling from
Fred Landeg, the Government's deputy chief veterinary officer. About 1500
birds had been expected at the event. In anticipation of a ban, Phil Carcass,
chairman of the East Midland Bird Breeders Association, also cancelled
the annual gathering for about 3000 birds at the Newark Showground due
next week. The move will please animal welfare groups who have been fighting
for a ban on wild captive birds, as well as poultry farmers who are anxious
to safeguard their livelihoods.
- The new measures to protect Europe were agreed to, as
ministers considered a new outbreak of avian flu in China and a 4th death
- -- ProMED-mail
- Under normal circumstances, the detection of antibodies
against an (hitherto undefined) avian influenza in 2 out of 23 dead "migratory
birds" (according to other media sources, wild geese) anywhere would
not be regarded as exceptional or alarming. Obviously, ours are different
times. We are anticipating receiving the final lab results as soon as possible.
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
- Please visit my "Emerging
Diseases" message board.
- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health