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Bird Flu Hasnâ€™t Gone Away
Posted 8 August 2008
Today (8th August), three bird flu stories are in the headlines. A previously confidential government report has been published today, in which the dangers facing Britain are examined. While a terror attack is considered more likely, it is believed that a flu pandemic would have a greater impact, killing up to 750,000 people in the UK alone. Experts say that a worldwide flu pandemic is now overdue and could come either from a mutation of a normal human virus or a bird flu.
A timely reminder comes from Indonesia, which this week has suffered another outbreak of bird flu. One person – the country’s 137th victim – has succumbed to the disease.
And closer to home, a Suffolk chicken farmer, who was at the centre of a flu outbreak in November is in court today, charged with illegally moving and storing poultry carcasses during the crisis. His actions – including a reported lack of biosecurity – are alleged to have helped the spread of the virus from farm to farm, and led to the culling of more birds.
In its natural state, the influenza virus has existed for millions of years as a harmless, intestinal infection of aquatic birds such as ducks. In poultry, bird flu has gone from a rare disease that occurs once a year to a far more lethal condition that is striking more and more frequently. Broiler sheds are perfect breeding grounds for the new, deadly viral strains and there are any number of ways that they can spread across countries and continents – not least through transportation of chicks and poults, poultry products, feed and equipment.