Abbotsbury Swannery 'clear of bird flu'

Image source, Paul Gillett
Image caption,
There are about 600 mute swans at Abbotsbury

A Dorset swannery is clear of bird flu after nine dead swans tested positive for the disease, Defra has confirmed.

The birds at Abbotsbury Swannery tested positive for the H5N8 strain in January.

There were 80 birds deaths at the swannery this winter when it would normally expect up to 40. The cause of most of their deaths is not known.

The virus, which is different to the H5N1 strain that affected the colony in 2008, is considered low risk to humans.

Tourism general manager John Houston said the swannery was given the "all clear" by animal health managers on Friday, which was confirmed by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

He added there had been no avian flu-linked deaths since last month.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Houston said infected birds looked lethargic "like they don't know where they are"

There are about 600 mute swans at the site, the world's only managed colony of the nesting birds.

The attraction, which reopens next month following its normal winter closure, said it routinely sent any bird that died to Defra for testing.

Avian flu has also been detected at other sites around the UK, including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Slimbridge reserve in Gloucestershire.

In December, poultry keepers were ordered to keep their birds inside to protect them from the strain.

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