Europe is stepping up its defences against bird flu amid fears the virus could spread westwards from Russia. In the Netherlands, all poultry will have to be kept indoors or contained in an enclosure from Monday. The aim is to prevent any contact with migrating wild birds that could be infected.Germany too is poised to take similar measures. Its Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister says emergency regulations have been prepared. Renate Kuenast said talks would be held with experts and German federal state governments about if and when they should be put into effect.She added that if she gave authorisation today, the measures would apply tomorrow. As she spoke Britain was preparing to distribute information packs to doctorsto help them identify cases of bird flu. Veterinary experts from across the European Union are due to discuss the problem next week. Mass bird deaths in a Russian region to the west of the Ural mountains have stoked fears that the virus may be spreading westwards.
From next month, millions of birds will continue their migration to warmer climes ahead of Russia’s harsh winter. Although a deadly strain of bird flu has been detected in Russia, no humans there are believed to have caught the virus. In Asia, it has already killed more than 50 people since 2003.