GOVERNMENT scientists, vets and poultry farmers joined forces yesterday to calm public fears over the spread of avian flu after tests on nine dead English swans - one of them from Thirsk in North Yorkshire - proved negative.
Avian Flu: A looming threat to
Britain's wild birds
Statements were issued by a cross -section of involved bodies, from the rural affairs department Defra to leaders of the poultry industry, expressing confidence in measures already in place ready to tackle a possible epidemic should the disease finally arrive in Britain carried by migrating birds.
They opposed measures to order poultry breeders to bring free range birds indoors, although these are in force in France and Holland where diseased birds have been found. The threat was of particular concern to the breeders of organic, free range poultry who feared that they could lose their Soil Association backing.
Defra, however, say this would not happen should an indoor order be needed - and scientists, vets and food producers went out of their way to assure the general public that there was no danger of contracting the disease from eating poultry or eggs.