A fourth swan from the Abbotsbury swannery in Dorset is believed to have been infected with the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus. The result is to be confirmed today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The mute swan was found dead on Friday and sent for testing to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge.
Government vets are not surprised by the further case and believe it is likely that other swans at the important reserve near Chesil Beach may be infected.
It is not known precisely how the virus arrived in the area, though the most plausible explanation is that a duck or similar species arrived from across the Channel during the cold snap before Christmas. The birds at the swannery are fairly static and do not migrate.
Among the brids that migrate to the UK when there are cold spells on the Continent are mallard, teal, widgeon and pochard as
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