Chicken/poultry flu on Immediately – Mark Avery

It was good to listen to chook/poultry flu on BBC Radio 4 Immediately programme this morning however the interview between Justin Webb and the Chief Vet, Christine Middlemiss (simply after 07:30), simply uncovered the truth that each had been working off a smattering of data concerning the topic on the subject of wild birds.

That’s OK for a radio presenter, and I fee Justin Webb extremely, however a bit extra worrying on the subject of the UK Chief Vet. However nonetheless, it’s vacation interval and possibly Ms Middlemiss drew the brief straw.

In the event you hearken to it (the hyperlink is above) then discover that the Chief Vet retains reaching again to home birds (which I suppose is what she is accustomed to), may be very imprecise about which wild birds she would possibly presumably be considering of and stresses the significance of surveillance. And as you hear discover that Justin Webb does not likely problem or dive deeper into the solutions he’s given however strikes on to the following topic (virtually as if he’s shifting via an inventory of questions).

See what you suppose, however I solely point out it as a result of it’s so totally different from an interview on a extra political topic the place the interviewer can be difficult the spokesperson whether or not civil servant, think-tank or politician.  This was additionally a political interview as a result of it’s about what authorities is doing on our behalf on a matter of financial, environmental and social significance.

The Chief Vet saved coming again to the significance of surveillance however she wasn’t requested what the surveillance is, what it displays and what it presumably may uncover. A query alongside these traces would have been enlightening as a result of the one surveillance that Defra admits to on wild birds is this pathetic desk up to date every week.  That’s primarily based on a tiny pattern of relatively fortuitously collected useless birds – it’s not a surveillance programme which might inform you which species have chook flu or whether or not chook flu is rising or reducing in wild birds.  Except there may be another work taking place about which Defra has saved very quiet then it isn’t actually surveillance of something a lot.

The query a couple of vaccine was very odd since we gave the impression to be speaking about wild birds – and the Chief Vet appeared barely thrown by the oddness of the query momentarily however it was actually a present to speak concerning the future hope for a future vaccine for poultry, presumably. It’s difficult to think about how a vaccine might be utilized usefully to wild birds.

Sadly Justin Webb gave the interviewee the reply to the query when he stated that spill-over to people ‘for the time being doesn’t appear to be  a lot of a threat’ so in fact the Chief Vet agreed, however stated it was an ongoing fear. This was the time, in a political interview, to ask ‘Are you sure that this illness gained’t have an effect on individuals’ to which the reply can solely be ‘No’ after which the follow-up is, ‘So what are you doing and what ought to the general public do? If I come throughout a useless or in poor health chook what ought to I do?’ and see what the response from Defra is. Get it on the report.

The query of different species getting so-called chook flu was fascinating if solely as a result of the Chief Vet talked about that Foxes can get chook flu – at the least that’s what I take her reply to imply. How do we all know that? Was that within the UK? Bear in mind we’ve among the highest Fox densities in Europe and among the highest city fox densities too. The Chief Vet talked about the significance of surveillance once more – what surveillance is there to detect chook flu in wild mammals within the UK?

Ms Middlemiss tried to sound involved about wild birds however, I assumed, failed. She stated that Defra wished to know what the impression was on ‘conserved’ species, threatened species, and went again to needing to know and that surveillance would inform us. Effectively, that’s a bit complicated and likewise a bit pathetic. We all know the tough scale of die off of many seabird species however Defra refuses to say something about it – and this was a possibility. Internationally necessary seabird populations have been hit very onerous – the declines of some species within the UK are of worldwide significance. I’d have thought that was price mentioning however it’s not a really vet-ish subject- it’s not what vets take into consideration a lot or get engaged in.  What’s the surveillance that’s going to inform us extra about this? It’s not analysing just a few corpses collected on seashores, is it?

The decision from NGOs for a nationwide response plan for the wild chook scenario was talked about in the beginning of the interview however not likely revisited. The Chief Vet was not requested to stipulate the nationwide response plan however from what we may collect from the interview it’s alongside the traces of continued surveillance (which isn’t a lot use) and wait and see what occurs. That’s a nationwide lack of response plan.


See earlier blogs on this topic: Newest weekly chook/poultry flu replace from Defra – for what it’s price 28 July; It’s all the time touching to get a private reply from a Minister of the Crown 22 July; RSPB press launch – Defra asleep on the wheel throughout chook flu emergency 20 July; NEWS – Hen Harriers with Chicken Flu on the moors 7 July; RSPB press launch – Roseate Terns and Avian/Poultry Flu 1 July; Chicken/poultry/avian flu is having a critical conservation impression 18 June.



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