The deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu was found in a South American parrot that died in quarantine in the U.K.
The U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the strain of H5N1 found in the parrot is a close match to a strain identified in China earlier this year. While the strain is not so similar to the strains isolated from Romania and Turkey.
The European Union’s executive - is considering proposing a total ban on imports of pet birds to the 25-member bloc, Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd announced on Monday.
Fewer than 10 workers came into contact with the infected bird. All were offered antiviral drugs, and will be monitored for around two weeks, British health officials said. If they develop symptoms, they will be treated as necessary.
The Department of Environment, Food and Regional Affairs (Defra) is asking for a “case-by-case risk assessment” on all birds in quarantine before they are released. There are approximately 2,000 birds being held in eight quarantine facilities in the UK that need to be checked. However, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper estimates that over half of the 500, 000 birds imported yearly to Great Britain are smuggled in. Health experts warn that illegally imported birds can become “Trojan horses” for H5N1.
An import ban would fortify defensive measures , but what about ‘Migratory Birds’?
Some scientists believe the disease, which can be transmitted from birds to humans, may be introduced by migratory birds traveling along flyways between Siberia and South Africa.