No doubt you have all been watching the news anxiously concerning the AI outbreak in Scotland. Needless to say phones have been rather red hot at the Reddings with people asking what the implications for racing are. Below I attach the press release from DEFRA as at 1430 hrs on 6th April 06. Please do check their site for further updates as they can change on a daily basis.
The crux for pigeon racing, until I hear to the contrary, is that there is no change to the situation. The DEFRA Contingency plan, as you will see below, has kicked in and the Surveillance Zone is in effect. This will restrict movements within the zone but does not exclude movement outside. Racing can continue until we hear otherwise and we (RPRA members) do not have any racing in this neck of the woods at present.
It is now absolutely imperative that we are seen to be following ALL the biosecurity measures in the Licence Conditions.
Avian flu tests on dead wild bird in Scotland
Preliminary tests have found highly pathogenic H5 avian flu in a sample from a swan found dead in Fife, Scotland.
The preliminary results were reported this afternoon.
The exact strain of the virus is not yet known, tests are continuing and a further result is expected tomorrow.
Exercise Hawthorn, the UK exercise for Avian Influenza has been brought to an end by the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds.
In accordance with a recent EU decision the Scottish Executive is putting in place a Protection Zone of a minimum of three kilometres radius and a Surveillance Zone of 10 kilometres.
Keepers of birds in the protection zone are being instructed to isolate their birds from wild birds, by taking them indoors where ever possible.
Measures to restrict the movement of poultry, eggs and poultry products from these zones will be brought into effect immediately.
If disease is confirmed as H5N1 there may be further restrictions put in place, subject to a veterinary risk assessment, such as housing and movement controls.
Whilst highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found the full type is not yet known at this stage. There is no reason for public health concern. Avian Influenza is a disease of birds and whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty, to humans this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces.
Chief Veterinary Officer for Scotland Charles Milne said:
“Whilst disease has yet to be confirmed, this is an important development. Bird keepers outside the protection zone should redouble their efforts to prepare for bringing their birds indoors if that becomes necessary. They must also review their biosecurity measures to ensure that all possible precautions have been taken.”
Debby Reynolds the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer added:
“I brought to an end the national avian influenza exercise to ensure that we can bring all our resources to bear on this situation. 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.”
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association
Nr Cheltenham, Glos GL51 6RN.
Tel 01452 713529 Fax 857119