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Bird flu tests come back negative

Photo by Eyleen Gomez.

All birds tested for the avian flu in Gibraltar have returned negative results, with no bird flu in humans detected locally either, the Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Carter, confirmed.

But while the tests were negative, the exercise focused attention on Gibraltar’s preparedness to respond to a bird flu outbreak, offering a chance to rehearse strategies and tighten them where necessary.

After the spread of bird flu in the UK and Spain, Gibraltar decided to test dead birds that were appearing on the shoreline and send the samples to the UK.

Last month multi-departmental meetings were held by the Gibraltar Government to analyse Gibraltar’s preparedness for an outbreak, and the public were advised not to touch any birds.

"What we're concerned about is if you have human seasonal flu circulating and flu in birds, and you then get a mixing of the viruses, that can then create a new strain," Dr Carter said.

Dr Carter added that the UK has found avian flu in birds, which has also spread to some parts of Europe. Spain has had some cases of avian flu in birds and in humans.

"We haven't got avian flu in birds that have been dying, but what that did was give us the opportunity to re-look at all our plans," she said.

"If we do get avian flu here, we're very clear about who's doing what and the human health consequences and what we need to do."

"It was a good dry run for us to make sure that if we do ever have avian flu, we know what we're doing here."

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