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The Saker
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Bird Flu in Clonakilty?

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Thursday February 23, 2006 12:23author by M Cotton Report this post to the editors

Bird Flu may have chosen Clonakilty as its first port of call in Ireland.

At any rate, a dead swan found in the bay has been sent off for analysis and the town is on tenterhooks until results come through. According to a report in yesterday’s Evening Echo ‘the number of dead birds being received by the District Veterinary Office in Cork has increased dramatically over the last two weeks. A swan, a duck and a gannet have been brought to the District Veterinary Office during the last week alone.

A spokeswoman for the DVO is reported to have said: “What was a trickle of birds over the winter has specifically increased over the last two weeks. A swan was brought in from the DVO in Clonakilty last week and we are expecting another local assignment. The rest of the birds have been from Co. Kerry. The Avian viorology section at the Deparment of Agriculture are currently testing blood and tissue samples for the H5N1 strain. It takes three to four days for definite results to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Agriculture minister Mary Coughlan has said that the likelihood of a bird flu outbreak occurring in Ireland is slim because ‘almost all of the affected birds are mute swans from central Europe and Ireland doesn’t have a pattern of getting these birds’ she said.

The increase in the number of dead birds being reported was thought to be as much to do with the growing awareness of the possibility of bird flu causing people to report instances which ordinarily they would ignore. The Echo report says that bird flu has affected 20 countries so far resulting in 170 infections to humans, with 90 of those resulting in fatalities.

Clonakilty has a special defence in the shape of Joe Walsh, TD widely credited with keeping foot and mouth disease out of Ireland. Mr Walsh has said that he would like to a part of a bird flu task force.

“The bad thing with a bird flu virus is that is an invisible disease” he said.

author by Shipseapublication date Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:53Report this post to the editors

In fact, the issue of bird flu is being taken very seriously indeed in Clonakilty. So much so that, in addition to a news report, a double-page spread was devoted to an interview with Joe Walsh in The Echo yesterday under the heading:

"Foot and mouth crisis was heartbreaking, traumatic and desperate - but Joe beat it"

Joe was happy to explain to us how his particular strengths served him so well when foot and mouth hit these islands:

"I suppose I've been blessed with a calm disposition, unlike some of my colleagues who I know, would actually ruin their notes with sweat when they are brought on Questions & Answers.

Speaking of how Ireland may yet be susceptible to foot and mouth disease, the former Minister had this to say:

"Because we now have more and more ethnic communities, we have people sending things like monkeys' eyes and all this kind of stuff into the country. And this can be dangerouse because in some African countries foor and mouth is endemic." He stated that the most likely cause of FMD getting into the UK was via passenger who was coming from a country in the Middle East, or Africa.

The FMD contigency plans that had been maintained by the Deparment of Agriculture since the outbreak in the 40s meant that Ireland was uniquely prepared for the threat. Interestingly, Mr Walsh says that "We were also extremely fortunate because we had had a traceability system through the tagging of animals in place for years before it - we almost knew more about the animal movements than the people movements at the time."

(I think I know what he means - at least I hope I do. Anyway, what DO they know about 'people movements'?)

 
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