Bird flu: Sweden on alert

Sweden has boosted its monitoring of wild birds amid outbreaks of the virulent H5N1 bird flu strain in Britain and Hungary, the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) said on Monday.

“We haven’t imposed any new restrictions, but we’ve increased our surveillance of wild birds,” the institute’s chief veterinarian Torsten Mörner told AFP.

“We have a network of people along the (Swedish) coasts who are going to keep us informed … They have to report (any) dead birds,” he said, adding that SVA was collaborating with the Swedish association for hunting and wildlife management, also present along the coast.

Also, on its website the institute asked the public to contact SVA if they find a dead bird.

“Birds usually gather on the southern coast of Sweden during the winter – geese, ducks, swans – and that’s where we may find dead birds,” Mörner said.

On Sunday, the Swedish Agricultural Board said there was no need to reinforce the current measures in place to prevent an outbreak of the virus for the timebeing.

Last year, several birds in Sweden were found to be carriers of the H5N1 bird flu virus, which can be fatal to humans and has killed 165 people around the world since 2003.

Last month a Hungarian outbreak of H5N1 was detected among geese, the first sign of the virus within the European Union since mid-2006. It has since been detected on a turkey farm in eastern England.