By Nicola Stow
A HORRIFIED local from the Scottish village hit by bird flu discovered a SECOND dead swan he fears was also infected.
But he didn't report it because officials failed to announce they were testing for the disease in the area— during the eight days they took to announce the horror virus had struck in Britain.
By then it was too late. The carcass of the swan spotted by Richard Brand had vanished—possibly eaten by, and infecting, other birds or animals.
Richard was out walking his dog with his two kids when he found the swan. It was just 500 yards away from where the infected swan was discovered two days later.
Richard, 47, below, said: "My dog started barking and ran towards an object which had been washed up on the shore. As I got closer I realised she was sniffing at a dead bird—a swan.
"My dog was rolling all over it-she probably licked it too.
"Bird flu never crossed my mind. It's only now, that the scare has emerged, that I think maybe that swan was infected too."
Now Richard is furious about the delayed announcement of the deadly H5NI type of the virus.
He said: "I think it's a disgrace that the authorities left it so long.
"I understand they had to carry out tests, but they could have put out some kind of warning. I could have alerted the authorities if I'd known there was a risk.
"But they took eight days to tell anyone they were testing. By the time I went back to the area, the swan was gone."
The swan confirmed with the disease almost certainly caught the bug after contact with a bird which had flown from Germany, experts said yesterday.
They say the strain of the deadly H5N1 virus is a 99.6 per cent match with an outbreak that devastated the German island of Rugen. The outbreak there occurred in February and caused the infection and death of 100 wild birds and 10 cats.
Boffins believe the swan found dead in Cellardyke, Fife, came into contact with a duck, goose or swan from Rugen. Leading virologist Professor Hugh Pennington said: "There's no doubt the dead swan had been infected by another bird from a place that was already in the midst of an H5N1 outbreak.
"Birds often fly across the North and Baltic Seas to Scotland."
Meanwhile furious bird farmers in the region claim bungling DEFRA chiefs failed to respond swiftly to the bird flu crisis in Scotland because they were on a TRAINING EXERCISE in London.
Donald Peddie, 49, the nearest egg producer to where the infected swan was found, said: "I think perhaps their minds were so much focused on the exercise a real incident slipped past them."
Local farmers are also furious after supermarket ASDA cancelled deliveries of chickens from a supplier inside the bird flu zone. Moira Henderson, of the Scottish Egg Growers' Association, said: "It is an absolute disgrace. Who are they to decide?"
Fourteen other birds tested for bird flu in Scotland were yesterday said to be clear of the disease.