Scotland reports mild strain of AI

by Erica Shaffer
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EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scotland’s chief veterinary officer said the government has taken immediate steps to contain a case of low-pathogenic avian influenza discovered at a poultry farm in Dunfermline, county Fife.

“All the evidence so far suggests we are dealing with a very mild form of H5N1 avian influenza, which is not the same as the strain that has been causing problems in Asia and north Africa, Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said in a statement. “Further tests are currently being carried out to confirm this but, in the meantime, we are taking no chances.

Local news reports said approximately 40,000 birds will be culled on site. The government also implemented restrictions on the farm and any identified contact premises, including a 1 km temporary control zone around the farm.

Controls are in place within the zone to control the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure and restrictions on bird gatherings. Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said “Livestock owners and the general public should be assured that we are doing everything we can to control and prevent the spread of the disease. Any poultry producers who are concerned should immediately seek veterinary advice.”

Meanwhile the search for a source of infection is ongoing, Voas said.

“We are looking into possible sources of this infection in Scotland but it is normal for such viruses to circulate among wild bird populations, especially waterfowl,” she noted. “However, it is important that poultry keepers remain vigilant for any signs of disease and to ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.”

The United Kingdom has had its share of trouble caused by avian influenza. There have been a number of recent cases of AI across continental Europe, including three cases in other parts of the UK in 2015.
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