Tackling bird flu

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The first recorded outbreak of bird flu on Arran among seabirds is worrying.

Stretches of shore are being cleared almost daily by volunteers but each new tide seems to be bringing in more and the volunteers are in danger of being overwhelmed.

These have been mainly from the most westerly point on Arran around Drumadoon Point but bodies have been collected from Catacol to Kildonan.

While vet Charlotte Clough has been quick to mobilise action on Arran’s beaches, it is important organisations like Defra, NatureScot and the local authority put in place a system that gets areas cleared systematically, helping to protect humans and their pets and to stop the spread of the disease into species that will scavenge these dead birds.

Sadly, current figures are likely to be a significant under estimate of the true number and there is already a warning this disease could be with us for some time to come, with early evidence confirming bird flu has moved into our urban gull and raptor populations.

Avian influenza is a virus that mainly affects birds. Migratory birds, especially water birds, carry different strains of the virus along their migration routes. Thankfully, the risk to human health from bird flu is very low, but members of the public should avoid touching sick or dead wild birds.