Bird Flu Alarm

2006-02-10-Executive toughens plans to counter bird flu

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-02-10-Executive toughens plans to counter bird flu

SCOTLAND could see a nationwide ban on the movement of poultry in the event of a bird flu outbreak, officials said yesterday.

The Executive said that in the light of "emerging circumstantial evidence" that migrating waterfowl could spread the disease, the current contingency plan would be upgraded.

Previously, the plan was to impose movement restrictions and require birds to be kept indoors only in the area around a diseased farm, but yesterday officials said these measures would be taken on a nationwide basis.

It came as an outbreak of bird flu in Nigeria - which is on the flight path of migrating birds that will return to Britain this spring - spread to two further provinces and United Nations officials warned the disease could be spreading unnoticed across Africa.

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "In the light of emerging circumstantial evidence that migrating waterfowl could carry high pathogenic avian influenza, the Scottish contingency plan has been updated.

"The previous plan talked about putting in place the restrictions in the area affected, as per European Union legislation. The change is about putting them in place countrywide."

However, she added: "These changes do not reflect any rise in risk. The risk of imminent introduction of high pathogenic avian influenza to the UK remains low."

The Executive said the controls would be relaxed "as soon as possible" once the situation became clearer.

Nigeria was yesterday planning a major cull of birds and imposing quarantine restrictions on farms after outbreaks in two more provinces following the discovery on Wednesday of the first cases in birds in Africa.

Understanding Avian Influenza