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Bird Flu Flies To Scotland

Tests confirmed that a wild swan found dead in Scotland carried the H5N1 strain of bird flu, and 14 other birds were being tested for the disease, British government officials said Thursday.

H5N1 was detected in a swan found in Cellardyke, more than 450 miles north of London, said Scotland's chief veterinary officer, Charles Milne.

The case is Britain's first confirmation of H5N1 in a wild bird. The deadly virus has not been found in domestic British poultry.

Twelve swans and two other wild birds also were being tested, Milne told a news conference. He said there was "no indication that any of these are positive" yet.

Among them are two swans found dead in the Scottish city of Glasgow, 400 miles north of London, the city's council said.

In other developments:

  • The U.S. Agriculture Department says cooking poultry to a temperature of 165 degrees will kill bird-flu virus — or any other kind. There have been no recorded cases of bird flu in the United States.
  • The U.N. health agency on Thursday raised the confirmed human death toll from the H5N1 bird flu strain to 109, adding a Cambodian boy who died earlier this week. The World Health Organization said the total number of confirmed human infections since the current outbreak began in 2003 has reached 192. Virtually all were exposed to the disease by contact with poultry.
  • Sweden on Thursday decided to nearly double its stockpile of antiviral drugs to prepare against a possible flu pandemic in Europe, government officials said. After the purchase, Sweden will have enough antiviral drugs to treat about 2 million of its 9 million citizens in case of a flu pandemic. Sweden is battling to contain the spread of bird flu after the deadly H5N1 strain of the disease was confirmed in wild birds last month.
  • A 16-year-old girl died of the deadly H5N1 strain and an 8-year-old boy tested positive, the Egyptian government announced Thursday. Both were from provinces in the Nile Delta, north of the capital, Cairo, and their families raised poultry for domestic consumption. Egypt is on a main route for migratory birds, at the crossroads between Asia and Africa.
  • German authorities are culling about 30,000 farm birds in an attempt to contain the country's first outbreak of H5N1 bird flu among domestic poultry, officials said Thursday.

    British government officials have restricted the movement of poultry and implemented a 965-square-mile "wild bird risk area" around the discovery site in which poultry farmers will be required to bring their flocks indoors, Milne said.

    About 260,000 birds will be moved. Wildlife officials will increase surveillance of wild birds, he said. Milne said there would be no mass vaccination of farmed birds to protect them against HN51.

    However, officials have ruled out a nationwide policy to keep all poultry and other domestic birds indoors, a spokesman for Scotland's parliament said on customary condition of anonymity.

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

    National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall urged the public to continue eating poultry. "There are no implications for public health or consumers," he said.

    The deadly H5N1 virus has infected millions of birds and has killed more than 100 people worldwide, mostly in Asia, since 2003.

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