Dead swan may have come from outside UK
Published:  14 April, 2006

THE SWAN found in Fife which had the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza is thought to have originated from outside Great Britain, Defra revealed this week.

Defra's announcement follows the UK chief veterinary officers' declaration on Tuesday (11 April) that the bird found in Fife containing the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza had been identified as a Whooper swan by DNA 'fingerprinting' at the Central Science Laboratory.

Reports on the BBC website on Tuesday (11 April) raised the possibility that the dead swan may have died in another country and was simply washed up on the Scottish shore.

A spokesman for Defra said: "There are whooper swan populations which winter across the UK, and a number of these have been tested over the past few months - all results so far have been negative.

"We would expect these swans to be leaving the UK now for their summer breeding grounds."

The Defra spokesman added that there will be no immediate change to the measures Defra has put in place.

Butchers say sales unaffected by dying swan

SALES OF poultry in independent butchers' shops within the vicinity where the swan with H5N1 was found have been unaffected since scientists announced bird flu had arrived in Scotland.

Poultry owners within the wild bird risk area - an area covering 2,500 sq km - have been told they must keep their birds indoors, or if not possible, kept away from wild birds.

Bird transport within a six mile (10km) surveillance zone has been curbed and poultry within a 1.8 mile (3km) protection zone must be kept indoors for testing.

The Scottish Executive said there are 175 registered poultry premises, containing 3.1 million birds, within their wild bird risk area of which 260,000 are free-range premises.

Fife butcher Grant Eaillie, owner of Thomsons, Kirkcaldy, said he had sold out of chicken over the weekend and so far had not experienced any problems with consumer confidence.

"A lot of people are coming back to independent butchers because, unlike the supermarkets, at least we can explain something to them," he said.

Owner of Grossets of Tayside, George Ferrier, said the news of the swan being found with the H5N1 virus had not affected sales at his shop.

And Andrew Green, of Wilsons of Crossgates, Leeds, said it was not chicken sales that had been affected since last week, but sales of barn eggs, which had declined by 50%. Surprisingly, he said, demand of free range eggs had increased.

The four major supermarkets said their poultry sales had not declined over the weekend and Waitrose strongly denied claims made in national newspapers last week that said the retailer was not sourcing poultry and eggs from Scotland.

A spokesperson for Waitrose told the Journal: "Regional and local sourcing is at the heart of our offer. We are actively sourcing regional suppliers in Scotland and have already sourced one supplier for eggs for the two new stores opening in Edinburgh."

A spokesperson for the British Poultry Council (BPC) was unavailable for comment as the Journal went to press.