Tests confirm dead swan found in Scotland had HN51 strain of bird flu

Tests have confirmed a swan found dead in Scotland had the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, Britain's national farming union and a bird preservation charity said Thursday.

Britain's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs contacted the National Farmers' Union to confirm the result, said Peter Kendall, union president.

Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said it also had been told by the government department that the swan tested positive for HN51.

A public announcement from the department was expected later Thursday.

The wild swan was discovered last Wednesday at a harbor in Cellardyke, more than 450 miles (725 kilometers) north of London. British government officials have restricted the movement of poultry and are considering whether to expand a 3-kilometer (2-mile) protection zone around the harbor.

Kendall said the union was concerned the disease had reached Britain, but cautioned the public to stay calm.

"There are no implications for public health or consumers," he said.

The RSPB said it would carry out daily checks on nature reserves in Scotland to determine whether the disease has infected other birds.

"We are now stepping up our bird monitoring work on our reserves, particularly those where swans and wild fowl are found," said RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden.

H5N1 has killed more than 100 people worldwide since 2003 - mostly in Asia.

The British government's crisis committee met earlier to discuss how to implement contingency plans, the Cabinet Office said.

Plans include recommendations to house or isolate domestic birds from wild birds and to keep all birds indoors within a protected zone.

One option is short term ban on the movement of poultry. Another is to cull suspicious birds.

The National Farmers' Union said Scotland's poultry industry is worth more than 115 million pounds (US$202 million; 161 million euros) per year.

Two dead swans discovered in the Scottish city of Glasgow, 400 miles (645 kilometers) north of London, are also being tested for bird flu, city authority officials said Thursday.

Glasgow City Council said the birds were discovered by a ranger in a city center park and have been sent to a government laboratory for testing, the AP reports.

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