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Britain Confirms First Case of Bird Flu in Wild Swan

April 07, 2006|From the Associated Press

LONDON — Britain confirmed its first case of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in a wild swan Thursday. The swan was found in the Scottish town of Cellardyke, about 300 miles north of London, said Scotland's chief veterinary officer, Charles Milne.

Health officials said the case posed no serious risks to public health, but the government began restricting poultry movement and implementing a 965-square-mile "wild bird risk area" around the site where the swan was found.

The virus has not been found in domestic British poultry, although a parrot imported from Suriname died of the strain in quarantine last year.

At least 109 people have died of bird flu since a wave of outbreaks of the H5N1 strain swept through Asian poultry in late 2003, the World Health Organization said Thursday. Virtually all were infected through contact with poultry. Officials said there was a lower risk in Britain, where people have less contact with birds than in Asia.

Britain's chief veterinary officer, Debby Reynolds, said that although bird flu could pass "very rarely and with difficulty" to humans, it required "extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly feces."

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