Bird flu threat is 'scaremongering'
PUBLISHED: 11:16 23 February 2006 | UPDATED: 14:36 12 May 2010
POULTRY farmers have criticised reports on the threat of bird flu arriving in the country as scaremongering". Angry farmers from around the Royston area believe the possibility of a bird flu epidemic is being blown way out of proportion". Dead swans fro
POULTRY farmers have criticised reports on the threat of bird flu arriving in the country as "scaremongering". Angry farmers from around the Royston area believe the possibility of a bird flu epidemic is being "blown way out of proportion". Dead swans from Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have been sent to an official Government avian flu laboratory, but all tests have at the moment proved negative. Poultry farmer Michael Burlton, of A P Burlton in Meldreth, said: "I don't think the media is assisting in the matter with scaremongering. It's difficult to control, but you can't put a ring-fence around Britain. "People think they are going to catch something by eating chicken, which is a little far fetched. It's been blown way out of proportion. "There's nothing to worry about with eating the meat," he said. Concern about an outbreak of bird flu was raised when a case was discovered in France. Mr Burlton said: "At the moment bird flu is not in this country. When it is I think livestock should be restricted where necessary, but not until it is over here." Another possibility being touted in the press is mass vaccination of all poultry. Peter Dodds, of Hillside Poultry Farm, Royston, does not believe it is possible for the Government to carry out mass vaccination of birds. He said: "I would love to vaccinate, but we can't because all birds then become carriers. It doesn't cure them, it just stops them dying and makes them carriers. "We've just got to sit tight, adopt tight security, keep people off the site and keep things clean. "We need to keep things in perspective. Avian flu is not here in the UK at this moment, so all the talk is being unhelpful to say the least." Herts County Council has agreed to the Government's national contingency plan and if there is an outbreak in the county, it will work with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A county council spokesman said: "Our trading standards department monitors animal movements across Herts and hosts regular meetings to exchange information throughout the county council. "In the event of an outbreak, the county council has detailed business continuity plans which would be put into action to ensure that key services would still be delivered." Mr Burlton said: "We are led to believe that measures are in place and that it will all be contained and that the Government has been planning for several years, "We've got the Government's assurance that everything will be all right and I'm quite happy to go along with any requirements that it makes," he added.