H5N1 Whodunnit?

H5N1 – It was the wicked wild birds that done it

Wild birds are to blame for the Suffolk outbreak of H5N1, says Defra. The acting chief vet Fred Landeg stated on national news bulletins that a close genetic match of the virus had been made with wild birds that died during the summer of 2007 in the Czech republic. No links to any commercial movements had been found, he said. Of course he chose his words carefully to blacken wild birds as they “could not be ruled out” as the source of this outbreak.
In its preliminary epidemiological report on the Diss outbreak Defra says –
“The current isolate has the closest genetic identity to an isolate from wild birds in the Czech Republic detected in mid-2007” and it criticises the siting of this free-range turkey unit in close proximity to an ornamental lake frequented by wildfowl with the associated risks of disease transmission.
All these statements are a gross distortion of the facts. The Czech outbreak started on a commercial turkey farm on 21st June holding some 1800 birds. On 10th July, a single infected dead wild mute swan was found some distance away. Investigations concluded that disease had been introduced by commercial movements, and that “A more likely explanation of the events observed is that the disease has spilled over from the turkey farms in the Czech Republic resulting in wild bird infections “. So says the official FAO report “Avian flu in Europe 2007” available at -http://www.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/231765/EW_Europe_aug07_ai.pdf
Once again, for whatever warped reasoning of trade and industry, DEFRA is deliberately misleading the public into believing that wild birds are to blame, whilst disguising the fact that international trade in poultry and their products is the root cause.
And by the way, despite intensive surveillance and sampling of wild birds in the Diss area, Defra failed to find a single trace of H5N1 circulating in them.

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