Experts ‘very sure’ flu is deadly strain

Eight dead tufted ducks found in the Oskarshamn area were all carrying the H5 virus, said officials at Sweden's National Veterinary Institute on Friday.

“We won’t know until Monday whether it was the aggressive variant of H5,” said the institute’s Lennart Melin.

The EU reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, said on Friday afternoon that everything indicates that two tufted ducks found earlier near Oskarshamn were suffering from the deadly H5N1 virus, Melin told news agency TT.

“The British experts are very sure that they were carrying the H5N1 virus, but they will do the final analysis at the beginning of next week.”

Seven wild ducks found in Västervik, south-eastern Sweden, and birds found in other areas including Västergötland, were not carrying any influenza virus, analyses from the National Veterinary Institute showed.

“We can rule these out completely,” Melin said.

The institute will wait until Monday before it examines the ducks to find out whether they were carrying an aggressive form of the virus. Melin said it was most likely that they were, and likely that it would be H5N1, given that the first two ducks were almost certainly carrying H5N1. The institute is therefore not going to send the eight ducks to the UK for further analysis.

“Given that the eight tufted ducks were found in the same place as the first two, and we know that the disease is present there, it doesn’t matter if they were also infected by the aggressive variant or not,” said Melin.

The practical effect of knowing whether the eight ducks had the aggressive virus would be small:

“It would lead to a change neither in the current regulations nor in the way that the Swedish Board of Agriculture is acting. Nor would we learn more about the way the virus is spreading,” he said.

“The good news is that the only place we have found the H5 virus is in the same small area by the nuclear power station in Oskarshamn.”

TT/The Local