By Richard Vize, editor
Councils are preparing to fight outbreaks of bird flu after the first confirmed case in France.
Preventative measures being deployed include:
>> Ensuring owners register flocks with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
>> Ensuring animal disease contingency plans are in place;
>> Stepping up inspections of poultry markets and lorries
>> Issuing guidance about separating flocks of poultry from wild birds
>> Carrying out contingency
exercises with the government's veterinary services.
County councils have been in the forefront of local government preparations. North Yorkshire CC is among those providing farm and poultry market inspectors with specialist training to look for signs of avian flu.
Countryside rangers have been trained to detect signs of the flu and are patrolling the south coast of England looking for birds with symptoms.
Councils such as Hampshire CC have stocked up on face masks, disposable gloves and disinfectant in preparation for controlling an outbreak.
Experts predict the most likely way the deadly HN51 strain of the virus will spread further is through the spring migration, although government advisers have said freezing weather around the Black Sea could drive infected birds to Britain within a week.
Councils have never had to deal with a bird flu outbreak before. Action could include restricting poultry movement, closing footpaths and enforcing rules to separate wild birds from poultry.