French bird flu ‘worrying’ – Nykvist

Sweden's agriculture minister has expressed concern after the H5N1 bird flu virus was discovered on a turkey farm in eastern France.

Ann-Christin Nykvist said it was worrying that the virus had hit domestic birds so near to Sweden.

“The situation is serious. The way the disease has spread is worrying, and the experts have been surprised that it came so soon, given that most migratory birds are thought to come during March,” she told news agency TT.

Sweden is well prepared for the possible arrival of the virus here, but the situation would become more serious if domestic birds were infected.

“The highest priority is to protect domestic birds, as there would be a number of problematic effects if they were infected,” she said.

“One problem is that people need to handle all the sick birds, another is that it would have a serious effect on the whole poultry industry. There is then the risk that the virus takes hold in the region and spreads in the wild.”

“For us the challenge is to now keep watch along the coastlines for sick birds. We have a range of measures prepared, which our organization practiced last autumn,” continued Nykvist.

With bird flu now so near to Sweden, there is quite a large risk that an infected wild bird could reach Sweden.

“This is not going to take us completely by surprise, and we are prepared. But we need imagination when something like this happens, because it is always hard to predict every little thing that can happen,” Nykvist added.

TT/The Local