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Falklands brace for avian flu

Monday, October 23rd 2023 - 07:01 UTC
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Domestic poultry owners in the Falklands have been advised to follow biosecurity measures Domestic poultry owners in the Falklands have been advised to follow biosecurity measures

Agriculture officials in the Falkland Islands have announced that biosecurity measures have been stepped up in anticipation of the imminent arrival of avian influenza, which is likely to come from a sick bird.

“There is no high index of suspicion of avian influenza in poultry or wildlife in the Falkland Islands at this time,” Chief Veterinary Officer Zoe Fowler told Falklands Radio last week. “It's our job to make sure it doesn't come in through preventable means,” Fowler said of the approaching summer season and the thousands of tourists it brings.

“We make people walk over footbaths and dip their boots, so if they've been to other wildlife areas, that's a less likely route of entry, but it's the one we have the most control over,” she also pointed out.

“We don't know what bird flu will look like in the Falklands. We know that in the Southern Hemisphere and South America, there have been devastating losses of some species, including sea lions,” she added.

“We can expect avian flu to cause devastating losses of some bird species and possibly marine animals in the Falklands. That's why, if and when it arrives here, we will take a really precautionary approach to control and areas will be closed for a period of time,” she continued.

Preventing people from contracting bird flu and ensuring that the birds that do survive are kept stress-free are other reasons why access to affected areas will be restricted, Falklands Radio also explained.

Domestic poultry owners are also being asked to be aware of biosecurity and to avoid walking in wild bird areas in the same boots used to feed chickens.

If bird flu is diagnosed around Stanley, measures will have to be put in place: “I really need people to think about what they're going to do now. Do you have a peat shed to keep them in? Can you put a hard roof on your run... so wild bird droppings don't fall in?” Fowler added.

Reports of dead or ill-looking birds should be made to the veterinary service, it was also explained. (Source: Falklands Radio)

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