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UK bird 'flu outbreak: wild birds exonerated

Man to blame as usual…

The publication by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the final epidemiology report into the Avian Influenza outbreak in Suffolk confirmed that the probable cause of infection was through imported meat products from Hungary.

The RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) is disappointed that the Bernard Matthews Company has used this report to call for further monitoring of wild birds, which have been exonerated as a vector in this outbreak.

In making such a call, the company opens the question of who should pay for even the current surveillance measures. The RSPB, along with other conservation charities, have been undertaking wild bird surveillance since the autumn of 2005.

"The cost to the RSPB alone has been £170,000 ($340,000) . The company stands to receive almost £600,000 ($1.2 million) in compensation while conservation charities shoulder the burden of surveillance with no cost to the poultry industry or DEFRA," said Dr. Mark Avery, the RSPB’s Director of Conservation. "Calling for more work without acknowledging their readiness to contribute to the costs of a scheme designed to protect their industry reveals a worrying state of denial within the industry." he concluided.

Last month a comprehensive critical review of recent scientific literature on the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N, published in the British Ornithologists Union journal Ibis, concluded that poultry trade, rather than bird migration, is the main mechanism of global dispersal of the virus.

4th July 2014