On the alert for bird flu

PUBLISHED: 11:05 23 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:40 06 May 2010

The RSPB in Sandy

The RSPB in Sandy

VISITORS to one of the largest nature reserves in the area are being asked to report any suspicious findings of dead birds. The appeal comes from the RSPB at their site in Sandy in an attempt to get any early warning of bird flu in the area. A spokesman a

VISITORS to one of the largest nature reserves in the area are being asked to report any suspicious findings of dead birds.

The appeal comes from the RSPB at their site in Sandy in an attempt to get any early warning of bird flu in the area.

A spokesman at the RSPB sight said the risk of avian flu spreading to the area "is unlikely but we cannot rule anything out which is why we are taking all precautions we feel are necessary".

The low risk is because the song birds that will be arriving in the area during the spring come from West Africa and do not fly over the infected areas of Europe.

The RSPB say the infected swans in Europe have flown westwards across central Europe because of bad weather and would not normally fly here.

Song birds have not been identified as carriers of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu.

Dead swans have already been found in Hertford and Bury St Edmunds and were sent for testing at the avian flu test laboratory in Surrey as a precaution. All tests for bird flu proved negative.

But the RSPB Sandy reserve says they have no wetlands so there are no wildfowl on their large site so the risk of any problem there is very small.

Visitors are being urged to report anything unusual among the bird population to the RSPB's headquarters at The Lodge before they leave.

The reserve has warned that if there was any alert they would immediately close the site to visitors.

"We are lucky here because we have no wetlands so there are no wildfowl which are at most risk. But we are taking all precautions we feel are necessary regarding bird flu," said an RSPB spokesman at Sandy.

At Standalone Farm, in Letchworth GC, owned by the Letchworth GC Heritage Foundation, they say they are prepared for any eventuality.

"As with all matters, we will follow DEFRA advice. That has stood us in good stead in the past," said foundation director general Stuart Kenny.

"At present, DEFRA is advising against undue panic. However, that does not mean we cannot be preparing for certain eventualities."

Standalone will open for its annual season next Wednes-day, March 1.

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