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Further Scottish bird flu results return negative

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) Nine more birds found dead in Scotland did not die of bird flu, officials said today, two days after Britain confirmed the deadly H5N1 strain had reached its shores.

On Thursday, Scotland's chief veterinary officer Charles Milne said a mute swan found in Cellardyke harbour in eastern Scotland had died from the virus.

Five other birds were also being tested today and the results are expected later in the day.

''The latest information shows that no new positive testresults have been received for the H5N1 strain of the virus,'' a statement by the Scottish Executive said.

Officials have said the threat to humans is remote, despitethe discovery of the deadly H5N1 strain in the carcass of the swan, found on March 29.

The Scottish Executive and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said laboratories in Scotland and England would work through the weekend to test the birds.

Scottish officials have announced measures to prevent the spread of the disease to domestic poultry farms as has happened in some European countries. Vets will test birds at all poultry farms within 3 km of the site the swan was found.

The authorities also set up a 2,500 sq km ''wild bird risk area'' in Scotland.

''Everybody's wish is that this disease never gets any further, and never gets into our domestic poultry flocks,'' National Farmers Union President John Kinnaird said.

Scientists fear bird flu could become highly dangerous tohumans if the virus mutates into a form easily passed on from one person to another, although it has not done so yet.

According to the World Health Organisation, the virus has killed 109 people out of at least 192 known human infections since 2003, almost all of them in Asia and involving people who had close contact with infected birds.

The virus has infected birds in France, Germany and several other European Union countries in recent months, but there has been no reported case of human infection in the EU.

Doctors say properly cooked poultry is safe, but farmers worry demand could plummet because of fear of the disease.

REUTERS PR VC1413

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