A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Friday, October 21, 2005

H5 strain of flu found in UK - three times.....

First, just released, the ultimate Dead Parrot story: 'Avian flu found in parrot in UK' (BBC Online News UK, October 21):
"A parrot that died in quarantine in the UK has tested positive for avian flu, the government has said.

Influenza A virus: public domainThe government said the H5 strain of the disease had been found; it is not known if it is the H5N1 variant which has killed people in Asia...."

[Above Right: Influenza A ('avian flu'): transmission electron micrograph of negatively-stained virus particles. Image in public domain: Dr. Erskine Palmer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library, Image #280; courtesy of Wikipedia.]

It appears that the bird arrived in the UK in mid-September from South America and that it has been quarantined, worryingly, with Asian birds imported from Taiwan.

It is now further known that the earliest record of H5N1 flu was not in Asia, but in Scotland, as far back as 1959: 'First bird flu case occurred in Scotland' (from our very own EnviroSpin News service, UPI, October 21):
"Scientists tracing the history of the deadly strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus have traced its debut to a Scottish chicken in 1959.

Scientists say the first recorded episode of the H5N1 bird flu occurred on a farm in Aberdeen, Scotland, in a chicken that then infected two flocks of chickens, the Scotsman reported Friday..."

It was also recorded from Norfolk, UK, in December 1991.

Unfortunately, the virus is now much stronger and more dangerous...

Watch this chicken story run and run. We will keep you posted.

Philip, "And so to bed, a little weary." Time to chicken out.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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