The Countryside Alliance has welcomed the news that some of the UK’s top scientists are to join forces in a major new research consortium in the battle against avian influenza. The eight-strong consortium, headed by the world-leading research team at the Animal and Plant Health Agency has received £1.5 million from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council and Defra, and has been tasked with developing new strategies to tackle future outbreaks of avian influenza.
This year’s outbreak has been the largest and longest ever experienced both in the UK and in many parts of Europe. The outbreak started earlier than previous years after the virus continued to circulate in Europe over summer 2021 and led to over 100 cases in the UK. The consortium hopes to find new ways to contain future outbreaks, which would be a significant boost to both the UK’s poultry sector, and game industry, which has experienced significant disruption from this year’s outbreak; a situation that has been further exacerbated by the outbreaks of avian influenza in the Vendee and Pays de la Loire areas of France, where the majority of French game farms are located, which has prevented the import of birds, chicks and hatching eggs ahead of the forthcoming shooting season.
Director for the Campaign for Shooting, Adrian Blackmore said: “The impact of this will be considerable, affecting as it does not just those that manage shoots, or are employed on shoot days, but also numerous businesses across the countryside, many of which will see a significant drop in business as shoots either have to reduce, or cancel, their days this season. Any scientific developments or research which can help put a stop to the spread of avian influenza will be of significant importance, and welcomed by all those affected by it.”
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