Groups in the UK are protesting at authorities for allowing the imports of pet birds from the European Union without them having to be quarantined. Bird flu (avian flu) is rapidly spreading through the European Union, but has not reached the UK.

According to the UK government, birds cannot be imported from a facility which had had bird flu infection within the previous 30 days.

However, groups such as Birds First, say the UK is vulnerable to bird flu infection by allowing pet birds into the country from the EU without having to quarantine them. They are often imported and then sold at pet fairs. ?Birds First’ campaigns to end the pet bird trade.

As more birds come down with the H5N1 virus – 15 swans in France (reported today) – people in Britain are becoming increasingly concerned.

Different groups, representing different interests, say different things. A spokesman for the ?Parrot Society’ said that the pet bird trade is not the threat – it is the movement of migratory birds. If birds are kept in cages, how can they be infected, the society says.

A lady from Kent (south east England) wrote to Medical News Today: ?Even if just one infected parrot, or canary comes into the country from the European Union, the consequences to the poultry industry will be huge. People will stop buying chicken meat and the economic cost of this will be large. We are not only looking at a public health problem here – the consequences are also economic.?

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today