The bad news is that the type of bird flu found in turkeys on a Suffolk farm is the virulent H5N1. The government has stepped in to calm the media. Sorry to be the harbinger of doom but I detect the hand of a shadowy PR spin doctor with a damage limitation plan. Take note, careful news management is clearly in action today in an attempt to halt growing public panic
Below is a collection of tight sound bites and my response to the flak. I suspect there is more to this story. My nails have been gnawed off after reading the wire reports and the sinister overtones. Not a good day for pessimistic hypochondriacs.
“Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said that there might be further undisclosed cases of the disease in the area.”
– Yes, there are more infected farms that we know about but not willing to disclose just yet
Mr. Benn told the House of Commons: “I’m not going to speculate as to whether this outbreak is going to get larger.
– it is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger…
“What we’re doing is working our darndest to make sure that it stays where it is.
– God knows how we are going to stop it – but we have a cunning plan- gas and slaughter more turkeys!
“The most important thing, having locked it down, is to trace the contacts and movements so we can take appropriate action.”
– We are keeping our fingers crossed but there isn’t much we can do.
A national and a local disease control centre have been established in Bury St Edmunds, with text messages sent to all bird keepers nationwide – especially those in zones on the poultry register.
– This old bollocks usually makes them feel a little calmer
Mr Benn said that movements within the restricted zones can take place, but not out of it. General licences for low risk movements out of the zone are expected to be available “shortly”.
-When in trouble ladle on governmental rhetoric
Mr. Landeg has urged people with poultry to be vigilant for bird flu
– FOR GODS SAKE DON’T PANIC
All birds at the affected premises – including approximately 5,000 turkeys, 1,000 ducks and 500 geese – will be slaughtered.
– If all fails drop off a few zeros – downplay downplay
Police officers are at the entrance to the farm, and vehicles are being sprayed with a jet hose.
-We created some great photo opportunities for Sky and the BBC
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said some 10% of birds in one shed at the farm had died during one night.
-yes it is bad…
It also said the farm was seasonal and prepared birds for Christmas. “As such, no birds from the farm have been slaughtered for food or sent to customers,” the statement added.
-Let’s hope we can make it to the holiday period
The top priority is to get controls in place, to inform people of the controls in place
-This is the tip of the iceberg we have to tell you something – please keep calm
Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Fred Landeg said there was “still some uncertainty” over the situation. “We are at a very early stage of the investigation,” he said.
-The will be a lot worse to come Echinacea will not help
“The initial sequence data suggests that it’s closely related to outbreaks in the Czech Republic and Germany, which does suggest a possible wild bird source.
– Lets blame it on Eastern Europe – the Daily Mail will focus on the migrant workers that should buys time
“However, at this stage we are looking with an open mind as to the origin and all potential sources of the origin will be investigated.”
-We really have got our fingers crossed, this evening we will sit down and create a batch of fairy tales to push out in an attempt to throw the press of the scent
Mr. Landeg also said there was a lake at the affected site with a number of wild fowl on it and that “no two outbreaks of the disease are ever the same”.
Confuse them with a scientific hypothesis – it just might buy some time
“This will not be a quick exercise. This is a particularly challenging site and our priority is to adhere to strict bio-security and the health and safety of staff on site is paramount.”
– Precursor to some more bad news tomorrow
Earlier, Mr. Landeg had said the risk of bird flu spreading was increased during the autumn months because of wild bird migration.
-Shorthand for – “it will get a lot worse before it gets better”. We are still hunting for a phrase that is more palatable than “the biggest threat to public health since the Great Plague”.
The affected birds were free-range – meaning they had access to the outdoors and may have been of greater risk of catching the disease.
– Please don’t put two and two together
There was a H5N1 outbreak at a turkey farm, also in Suffolk, in February.
– Look the deadly virus has been stopped before – but not on a farm with free range fowl. We are all praying the stockpiles of vaccines work