Defra has confirmed that a fourth mute swan, found dead in the vicinity of Abbotsbury Swannery, Dorset, has tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza. The BBC is reporting that a fifth swan has also tested positive for the disease. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn MP, commented in a statement that additional cases were not unexpected, and announced that sampling of live swans at the Swannery will begin in order to investigate whether any others are infected.

The ongoing epidemiological investigation has not yet identified the source of infection but suggests that the strain of the virus is very similar to that identified in cases in the Czech Republic, Romania and Poland during mid to late 2007. It is less similar to the strain identified in the outbreak near Redgrave, Suffolk, last November.

Enhanced surveillance continues on RSPB reserves in Dorset, Devon and Somerset, and we continue to work closely with the British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and others to advise Defra on the actions required to investigate and manage the outbreak.
 
Up-to-date information can be found on Defra's website: www.defra.gov.uk
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