Wed, Oct 26, 2005 - Page 2 News List

UK bird flu claim attacked

AGENCIES , LONDON AND TAIPEI

Taiwan's representative in Britain yesterday demanded that a British health official explain her supposition that Taiwanese birds passed avian flu to a parrot that was in quarantine in Britain.

"Debby Reynolds saying before test results were out that the Taiwan birds carried H5N1 has not only seriously hurt Taiwan's international image but also exposed negligence in Britain's quarantine," Lin Hsin-yi (林俊義) said in an interview with the BBC, referring to the strain of the virus health authorities fear could cause a pandemic.

"We demand a report and an explanation from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] and at the same time express our gravest concern to the British government," he said.

Reynolds, the department's chief veterinarian, said on Friday that a parrot imported from Suriname had died of bird flu while in quarantine in Britain's first case of bird flu since 1992.

She confirmed on Monday night that the parrot died of the virulent H5N1 strain.

Lin said the parrot that died arrived in Britain from Suriname on Sept. 16 and was soon killed because it carried bird flu, but the Taiwanese birds that were alleged to have infected it arrived in Britain on Sept. 27.

"DEFRA must explain if the Suriname parrot -- or the Taiwan birds -- were infected first," Lin told the BBC. "It cannot assume that since most of the bird flu cases are in Asia, the Taiwan birds carried H5N1."

Lin also criticized the department for locking up birds from different countries together because bird flu can be transmitted bird-to-bird through the air.

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