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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 22:16 GMT
Dead hen bird flu tests negative
Bon Accord Farm
Bon Accord Farm was sealed off while tests were carried out
Preliminary tests taken after dozens of dead chickens were discovered on a farm in Orkney have proved negative for bird flu, it has been confirmed.

Analysis for the deadly H5N1 virus was carried out at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency in Weybridge, Surrey.

About 100 dead birds were found at Bon Accord Farm, Sandwick, on Wednesday.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said further tests would take place to confirm the findings, with results due next week.

He said: "Preliminary results from samples taken from dead chickens on a farm on mainland Orkney have indicated no presence of H5 avian influenza.

Now we want to know what caused it
John McNally
Farmer

"Further laboratory tests are required to confirm these preliminary findings.

"Final confirmation of results will not be available until next week and as a precautionary measure movement restrictions onto and off the farm will remain in force until all tests have been completed."

There have already been 39 similar UK investigations carried out this year, all of which returned negative results.

Farmer John McNally, 63, said the birds had been found by a friend who was looking after the farm while he and his wife visited relatives in Australia and the West Midlands.

He said: "I'm certainly glad it wasn't bird flu, but I never thought it was.

Chickens
The NFUS urged poultry farmers to remain vigilant

"Now we want to know what caused it, and if it turns out it was something illegal, then hopefully we'll find out now."

Mr McNally has about 400 free-range hens on his three-acre farm.

A spokesman for the National Farmers' Union in Orkney said the community was tremendously relieved that bird flu had not been confirmed.

Stewart Wood told BBC Scotland: "The relief is that there is no bird flu in Orkney.

"Obviously there is a threat out there as Europe is not that far away.

"Poultry farmers should still be vigilant, particularly as it is migrating bird season."

Obviously there is a threat out there as Europe is not that far away
Stewart Wood
NFUS

Dr Bob McCracken, immediate past president of the British Veterinary Association, told BBC Scotland's news website that the birds could have died from a number of causes.

Dr McCracken, a poultry pathologist for 30 years, said bird flu had been a concern because of Orkney's proximity to Scandinavia where the virus has been found.

Denmark recorded its first case of the potentially deadly H5N1 avian flu virus on Thursday.

The strain has already been found in Europe this month in Switzerland, Poland, Serbia-Montenegro and Albania.

France recorded its first case in February.

Dr McCracken said he was reassured that farmers were reporting poultry deaths.

"This is precisely what is needed as we face the challenges posed by this virus" he said.


SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Bird flu
19 Feb 06 |  Health


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