It was good to listen to chicken/poultry flu on BBC Radio 4 Immediately programme this morning however the interview between Justin Webb and the Chief Vet, Christine Middlemiss (simply after 07:30), simply uncovered the truth that each had been working off a smattering of data concerning the topic with regards to wild birds.
That’s OK for a radio presenter, and I charge Justin Webb extremely, however a bit extra worrying with regards to the UK Chief Vet. However nonetheless, it’s vacation interval and perhaps Ms Middlemiss drew the quick straw.
For those who hearken to it (the hyperlink is above) then discover that the Chief Vet retains reaching again to home birds (which I suppose is what she is accustomed to), may be very imprecise about which wild birds she may probably be pondering of and stresses the significance of surveillance. And as you pay attention discover that Justin Webb does probably not problem or dive deeper into the solutions he’s given however strikes on to the subsequent topic (nearly as if he’s transferring by way of a listing of questions).
See what you suppose, however I solely point out it as a result of it’s so completely different from an interview on a extra political topic the place the interviewer could be difficult the spokesperson whether or not civil servant, think-tank or politician. This was additionally a political interview as a result of it’s about what authorities is doing on our behalf on a matter of financial, environmental and social significance.
The Chief Vet saved coming again to the significance of surveillance however she wasn’t requested what the surveillance is, what it screens and what it probably may uncover. A query alongside these strains would have been enlightening as a result of the one surveillance that Defra admits to on wild birds is this pathetic desk up to date every week. That’s primarily based on a tiny pattern of moderately fortuitously collected lifeless birds – it’s not a surveillance programme which might inform you which species have chicken flu or whether or not chicken flu is growing or lowering in wild birds. Until there may be another work taking place about which Defra has saved very quiet then it isn’t actually surveillance of something a lot.
The query a couple of vaccine was very odd since we appeared to be speaking about wild birds – and the Chief Vet appeared barely thrown by the oddness of the query momentarily nevertheless it was actually a present to speak concerning the future hope for a future vaccine for poultry, presumably. It’s difficult to think about how a vaccine can be utilized usefully to wild birds.
Sadly Justin Webb gave the interviewee the reply to the query when he mentioned that spill-over to people ‘in the intervening time doesn’t appear to be a lot of a threat’ so in fact the Chief Vet agreed, however mentioned it was an ongoing fear. This was the time, in a political interview, to ask ‘Are you sure that this illness received’t have an effect on folks’ to which the reply can solely be ‘No’ after which the follow-up is, ‘So what are you doing and what ought to the general public do? If I come throughout a lifeless or unwell chicken what ought to I do?’ and see what the response from Defra is. Get it on the report.
The query of different species getting so-called chicken flu was fascinating if solely as a result of the Chief Vet talked about that Foxes can get chicken flu – at the very least that’s what I take her reply to imply. How do we all know that? Was that within the UK? Keep in mind now we have among the highest Fox densities in Europe and among the highest city fox densities too. The Chief Vet talked about the significance of surveillance once more – what surveillance is there to detect chicken flu in wild mammals within the UK?
Ms Middlemiss tried to sound involved about wild birds however, I believed, failed. She mentioned that Defra needed to know what the impression was on ‘conserved’ species, threatened species, and went again to needing to grasp and that surveillance would inform us. Effectively, that’s a bit complicated and in addition a bit pathetic. We all know the tough scale of die off of many seabird species however Defra refuses to say something about it – and this was a chance. Internationally necessary seabird populations have been hit very exhausting – the declines of some species within the UK are of world significance. I’d have thought that was price mentioning nevertheless it’s not a really vet-ish subject- it’s not what vets take into consideration a lot or get engaged in. What’s the surveillance that’s going to inform us extra about this? It’s not analysing a couple of corpses collected on seashores, is it?
The decision from NGOs for a nationwide response plan for the wild chicken state of affairs was talked about firstly of the interview however probably not revisited. The Chief Vet was not requested to stipulate the nationwide response plan however from what we may collect from the interview it’s alongside the strains of continued surveillance (which isn’t a lot use) and wait and see what occurs. That’s a nationwide lack of response plan.
See earlier blogs on this topic: Newest weekly chicken/poultry flu replace from Defra – for what it’s price 28 July; It’s all the time touching to get a private reply from a Minister of the Crown 22 July; RSPB press launch – Defra asleep on the wheel throughout chicken flu emergency 20 July; NEWS – Hen Harriers with Chook Flu on the moors 7 July; RSPB press launch – Roseate Terns and Avian/Poultry Flu 1 July; Chook/poultry/avian flu is having a severe conservation impression 18 June.