Queen Elizabeth's swans may have been killed by bird flu outbreak

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs confirmed it was investigating a suspected outbreak of the deadly strain in Berkshire, with results expected early next week.

At least 13 birds are believed to be undergoing examinations.

A source said: "Bird flu is feared to have struck the Windsor swan flock".

Regarding the deaths of the seven swans, a tenth of the total number, the royal biographer Penny Junor told the paper: "The Queen will be profoundly upset about this".

Safety measures to prevent the spread of disease include keeping bird enclosures clean and tidy, ensuring wild birds can not access feeding areas and making sure equipment is kept undercover so it can not be contaminated by wild birds.

David Barber, the Queen's Swan Marker, said "quite a percentage" of the flock had died.

The Crown owns all mute swans - the most common of the UK's three species - found on open water in Britain. The mute swan is the most common of three United Kingdom species.

Mr Barber, who is responsible for the centuries old tradition of carrying out the annual swan census, said staff were monitoring the situation and trying to stop the spread.

Since then the region has seen at least 17 cases, with at least ten fatal.

Symptoms of Avian Influenza A are typically a shortness of breath and fever.

An investigation is underway following a suspected finding of bird flu in Berkshire, the government has confirmed. Authorities have been forced to cull hundreds of thousands to stem widespread outbreaks in China, Japan and South East Asia.

Public Health England has explained that the risk of the disease to humans is "very low" and that the chances of it spreading between humans are "low".

Four wildfowl were killed by the H5N6 strain at Amwell Nature Reserve in Hertfordshire just two weeks ago, which led to Defra introducing an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on January 18.



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