- Scientists are investigating a bird flu outbreak which has hit the Dorset region
- Famed Abbotsbury Swannery is among those affected by the flu
- So far 17 birds have been identified with a European strand of avian influenza
- Members of the public have been asked to report sightings of any dead birds
- A dead swan was found by a local resident in the River Stour this morning
A famed swannery in Dorset is among those hit by bird flu after the disease was detected in 17 birds in the region, experts from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have confirmed.
Abbotsbury Swannery, a popular tourist spot, has several mute swans, one Canada Goose and one Potchard Duck that are affected.
It is the world’s only managed colony of nesting mute swans.
Scientists believe more cases of the disease will emerge over the coming days.
Tests have found the infected birds are carrying a form of the disease closely related to the H5N6 strain that has infected birds across Europe, however it is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year.
Scientists have found 17 wild birds in Dorset which have been infected with the H5N6 bird flu strain. It is a different strain to the one which infected people in China last year
Popular tourist spot Abbotsbury Swannery has several mute swans, one Canada Goose and one Potchard Duck that have been affected
Abbotsbury Swannery is currently closed to the public during the winter season and is not due to reopen until March 17.
Public Health England said the risk to the public is very low.
Earlier today Wendie Bryant, from Blandford, found a dead swan in the River Stour.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency told Mrs Bryant that a vet would be sent out to collect the swan in the next few hours.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said: ‘This is the first time avian flu has been identified in the UK this winter and while the disease does not represent a threat to the public, it is highly infectious and deadly to birds.’
Farmers or anyone who keeps birds has been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspected outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease.
The swannery is the world’s only managed colony of nesting mute swans (pictured: swans gathering for feeding at Abbotsbury in 2012)
Abbotsbury Swannery is currently closed to the public as it is the winter season and is not due to reopen until March 17
In response to the scare, a local ‘avian influenza prevention zone’ has been introduced in the Dorset area where the outbreak was located.
Farmers will be asked to increase bio-security measures and keep their birds indoors to minimise the mixing with wild birds and reduce the chance of spreading the disease.
They have also been asked to disinfect their footwear when moving in and out of bird enclosures.
Members of the public have also been asked to report sightings of any dead birds in the area to the department so the cause of death can be investigated.
Earlier today Wendie Bryant, from Blandford, found a dead swan in the River Stour. A vet from the Animal and Plant Health Agency has been sent out to collect the bird