Fear of deadly bird flu confirmed
There is now no doubt at all regarding the incidence of the deadly bird flu in the Czech Republic. Czech tests on a dead swan found in the Vltava River in the south of the country indicate that the bird died of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. Meanwhile a second swan sent in for testing a few hours later was found to be infected with the H5 virus, most likely also the H5N1.
Well, the big news at this point is the finding of a second bird, because as you said the authorities were anticipating the worst in the case of the first swan. The second bird was found near Ceske Budejovice which is in the 10 km high risk zone. And of course the situation may worsen with every passing day because monitoring patrols and the public are apparently sending in a fairly high number of dead birds every day. Petr Satran from the State Veterinary Office says he's not ruling out more cases of bird flu in the near future.
"It is possible, because this is an area where there are a great many ponds and lakes. There is a high density of wild birds in this region and lot of dead birds are being found there. That explains the high number of dead birds which are now being sent in for testing."
That's right, in line with EU regulations the authorities have acted on a worst case scenario. The measures include a ban on the transport of live birds, poultry products and eggs. Poultry farms are using disinfectants. There is close monitoring of both the wild-bird population and the small farms and big holdings. There are three large poultry farms in the high risk zone, so that's a potential danger. There's a ban on outdoor breeding, a ban on hunting of wild birds and of course plenty of cooperation with ornithologists and the local authorities to make sure that information filters through to everyone.
So the public does have enough information?
I believe so. The papers are full of it, radio programmes, TV programmes are covering the story and the agriculture ministry is also distributing leaflets. I don't think that the measures have had a huge impact on people's lives but I would say they are aware of the dangers, especially where small children are concerned and many people who keep chickens now say they will get rid of them in order to minimize the risk.