Preliminary results from tests performed on a dead swan found in Scotland have detected the presence of H5 avian influenza, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said yesterday (5 April). 

The exact strain of the virus is yet to be confirmed.

In accordance with European Union regulations, a protection zone of three kilometres and a surveillance zone of ten kilometres has been established. Measures to restrict the movement of poultry, eggs and poultry products in these zones are being put into effect, DEFRA said.

If the disease is found to be the H5N1 strain, further restrictions, housing and movement controls may be implemented.

Debby Reynolds the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer said: “We are already in a high state of readiness and I have every confidence that officials north and south of the border will work together to manage this incident successfully.”

DEFRA added that there is no risk to human health, emphasising that the disease passes to humans who are in close contact with live birds very rarely.

Britain is the second-largest per capita poultry consumer in western Europe. The UK poultry industry has already been placed under pressure from cheap continental imports that have flooded the market, it remains to be seen what consequences the arrival of the virus will have on the industry.