Anorak News | Chicken In A Basket

Chicken In A Basket

by | 19th, October 2005

‘TERRORISTS kill and maim, but you’d be unlucky to catch the flu off them.

Last year he took me to the Algarve

Flu is the new terror – a truth emphasised by the Express’s news that sniffer dogs at Heathrow Airport are being used to pick up the scent of birds, eggs and feathers.

There’s Jasper the dog in the Mail, rubbing his dribbling nose all over the suitcase of a man newly arrived from Turkey or Romania, where outbreaks of the bird flu have been discovered.

Of course, Jasper might have got it wrong. That chap whose bag he’s sniffing might have come from anywhere, but he looks Turkish enough, so Jasper feels duty bound to sniff him.

Better to be safe than sorry. As Chris Pratt, the Products of Animal Origin Manager for Customs at Heathrow, says: “The risk is minimal, but what we’ve been asked to look out for specifically is dead or live birds, feathers and eggs. We’re looking for these things being imported in personal luggage.”

Fair enough. A traveller might be flying in from Istanbul with an egg bap, but does anyone really pack a dead chicken in with their socks?

Are the men and women who pose the security questions at the check-in desks now asking if travellers packed the bags themselves and if anyone gave them a live parrot to carry, or, worse still, a dead one?

Perhaps this is not so preposterous to the French. Travelling supporters of French national rugby and football teams love to take a cockerel along to the game.

Mindful of this, the French have already begun to distribute anti-bird flu medicine, as the Express reports.

“France is at this stage, to our knowledge, the only country in the world to give such protection to its nationals abroad,” says Jean-Baptiste Matei of the French ministry for health.

That’s all very good for the French. But what about over here, a short flight away in Blighty? The British Government has yet to reveal its plans, let alone any drugs.

With the powers that be still to decide on what to do, the Express speaks with Julian Hughes, head of species conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

He says bird watchers should report any strange behaviour among the birds they spot. “When people are out bird-watching in the countryside,” says Hughes, “if they do see anything out of the ordinary – a die-off of 20, 30 or 40 birds – that’s the cue something has gone wrong.”

So if we see lots of dead birds, there is a strong chance that not all is well? Ok. Got it!

What next? Hughes says you pick up a telephone and call the Government helpline and report the incident – “the number is 08459 335577”.

Tell the person on the end of the phone what you’ve seen. And whatever you do, do not approach the birds or eat them with cranberry sauce, redcurrant jelly or any other kind of preserve.

And on no account are you to take them on holiday…’

Posted: 19th, October 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink