Bird flu: testing cut

Testing wild birds for bird flu has been cut by 17 per cent in Britain, despite the recent outbreaks.

Wild birds test for bird flu between August and December 2007 numbered just 2,990, compared with 3,504 during the same period in the previous year.

Bird flu was discovered last week in swans at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset and, as the swans do not move from the area, it is likely that a wild bird brought in the disease. Government vets are now monitoring the area and have set up a Wild Bird Control Area and Monitoring Area, in which birds are kept strictly isolated from wild birds.

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative environment spokesman, said that the decrease in testing of wild birds for bird flu was ‘staggering’, especially compared to the tests run in the Netherlands and Sweden, which involve tens of thousands of birds. Bird flu was last discovered in Suffolk in November 2007.

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has set up a helpline for anyone wishing to report suspected cases of bird flu. The number is: 08459 33 55 77

Testing wild birds for bird flu has fallen by 17 per cent in Britain, and vets are currently monitoring the possible outbreak in Dorset.

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