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Row over source of bird flu

PUBLISHED: 16:56 07 December 2007 | UPDATED: 08:18 28 March 2014

DECEMBER 2007: Defra has been accused of trying to blame wild birds rather than poor biosecurity for the bird flu outbreak in Suffolk.

The RSPB says Defra’s preliminary epidemiological report, published on its website, ignores the likelihood that one infected commercial turkey or duck brought the disease to the farm.

Defra said it had not been possible to categorically identify the source of the outbreak. It said an initial report found no evidence to indicate introduction via infected poultry or products or vehicles/people transporting them, from countries with undisclosed infection in their domestic turkey, geese and duck population. It said wild birds could not be ruled out as a source of infection. 

At the time of going to press, Defra said there was no evidence of H5N1 infection in the local wild bird population or in GB as a whole, but continued surveillance was vital.

Leading smallholder Alan Beat, who has made a study of animal diseases, said: “Once again Defra are deliberately misleading the public into believing that wild birds are to blame, while disguising the fact that international trade in poultry and their products is almost certainly the root cause.”

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