JANUARY 17 2008: A fourth swan at a sanctuary in Dorset has tested positive for thevirulent H5N1 strain of bird flu, environment department Defra has said.

Three mute swans found dead last week at the Abbotsbury Swannery, near Chesil Beach, also tested positive for H5N1.The fourth swan was one of four found dead at the swannery on Friday. Tests on the other three proved negative.Culling has been ruled out so far but there are restrictions on movements of captive birds nearby.Defra said there was currently no evidence to suggest the disease was widespread among wild birds in the area, but officials were closely monitoring the situation.Tests are being carried out on birds around the Chesil Beach area as part of routine surveillance for the disease.Bird keepers in the area have been urged to remain vigilant.John Houston, general manager at Abbotsbury Tourism Ltd, told the BBC: “That puts us back to square one in terms of waiting for a 21-day clearance before we are out of the woods.”It’s disappointing but not totally unexpected this early in the outbreak. It would be wonderful if it disappeared immediately but that’s unrealistic.”It’s going to take a while for it to be contained and weeded out.”The swannery is part of an area of wetland recognised to be of international importance.The Health Protection Agency has monitored about 12 staff at the swannery for signs of the disease, although the risk of infection is said to be low.Workers have been given a course of anti-viral drug Tamiflu as a precaution.

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