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Bird flu controls tightened

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12:16 CET+01:00
Preparation for a possible Bird Flu pandemic has been stepped up throughout Sweden following yesterday's discovery of the aggressive H5 virus in two tufted ducks near Oskarshamn, Småland, in the south of Sweden.

The search for other possibly infected dead birds was continuing in the area on Wednesday.

Around 15 wild birds found on Tuesday have been transported to the National Veterinary Institute in Uppsala for testing.

Bengt Larsson, a director at the Swedish Board of Agriculture, told TT that the situation at the moment is under control.

"After having scanned the area, we can state that there were no traces of additional dead birds. During the day, we will also examine the three groups of fowl which are in the blocked-off area, and there are not so many of them," Larsson said.

The veterinarians searching for other infected birds in the area will get help from around 15 members of the Swedish National Guard.

The layer of snow which fell overnight could complicate the search, but according to lead search-site veterinarian Håkan Henrikson, the job seems manageable.

"There are individual dead birds, but no groups of dead birds," he said.

Precautionary measures for all who enter the search site have been stepped up.

Police have assembled roadblocks about a kilometre from the search-site gates, and all who come in near contact with dead birds will be equipped with protective clothing, including face masks, shoe protection, gloves and protective goggles.

Passing motorists will get information about the blocked-off area, and no fowl are allowed to be transported near the area.

Information to the public regarding the on-going search will mainly be the responsibility of the Småland Administrative Board. An information centre has already been manned with experts to deal with questions.

Around the rest of Sweden, several other County Administrative Boards have formed crisis groups, and all who keep fowl, including those with only a small number, have been requested to register with their respective County Administration Boards.

Security measures for the virus are concentrated on the coast, according to Barbro Röken, County Veterinarian for Östergötland.

For Jenny Andersson, managing director for Stjärnamo Kyckling, a Swedish chicken producer, the discovery of the H5 virus in Sweden has sparked worry over market effects as well.

"For us, it's important that the consumers do not become afraid to eat chicken," she said.

Since the first outbreak of Bird Flu in Asia, demand for poultry has fallen throughout Europe.

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