Dozens of dead birds in suspected flu outbreak at Highlands reserve
Dozens of wild birds have died in a suspected avian flu outbreak at a national nature reserve.
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Consultant ornithologist Peter Stronach found 160 individual birds of 20 species at Loch Fleet, near Golspie in Sutherland this week.
Scotland's chief vet Sheila Voas said there had been a significant number of wild bird deaths in the area in recent weeks.
She said 50% of birds tested by the authorities were positive for the flu.
Ms Voas said some results returned so far on birds tested this week were also positive.
Public agency NatureScot, which manages Scotland's national nature reserves, said a number of cases of avian flu had been confirmed in birds around the coast in recent weeks.
It said suspected cases had been reported at its coastal nature reserves in the north Highlands, Northern Isles and the north east. Potential cases had also been reported at Loch Leven in Perth and Kinross.
Avian flu can be spread from wild birds, usually migratory species such as geese, to domestic birds.
The Scottish government said the recent winter had seen the largest outbreak of avian flu in the UK to date.
It said more than 100 commercial and domestic poultry flocks were affected.
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