Animal Aid


Posted 10 December 2003

National animal protection group, Animal Aid, who held a protest outside the NEC's wild bird market at the weekend, has been joined by the Captive Animals' Protection Society and Birds First in their condemnation of the event.

An investigator from Birds First carried out test purchases of two Senegal parrots and one conure and has learned from preliminary tests that at least one of the birds has a serious psittacosis infection. Commonly known as parrot fever, psittacosis is highly infectious to other birds and also to people. Once contracted by humans, the disease can be passed from person to person.

Animal Aid is urging anyone who visited the event and is now suffering mild or severe flu-like symptoms (typically within a few days to two weeks) to report immediately to their GP and explain that they have visited the wild bird market at the NEC. Psittacosis can cause lesions on the lungs, which can bring about a consistent cough but people don't usually die from it. Animal Aid will also be on hand to offer legal advice should anyone wish to take action against the organisers, IPC Media Ltd, the NEC or Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, the licensing authority.

Says Animal Aid campaigner, Elaine Toland:

"These birds were purchased at random and, even to our vets, did not appear to be sick. Unfortunately, the event was allowed to take place despite our clear warnings of the potential threat to animal and human health. Studies have shown that disease is rampant at these events."

Thousands of birds were on sale in a confined space which are the perfect conditions for a bird epidemic. This also leaves the National Exhibition Centre compromised as psittacosis bacteria can remain on walls, floors and door handles for other people to pick up. No receipt was given to the investigator who purchased the birds and without veterinary intervention the Senegal parrot would probably have died within a week. The BioVeterinary Group, specialists in exotic animal care and public health, recommends that all buyers of birds at the NEC market take birds to their vets immediately for a full check up and test for psittacosis and other infections, as the risk of infection to both birds and people must be taken very seriously.

Birds First asked a senior avian vet to run a series of tests on all of the birds and is awaiting further results.

Notes to Editors

  • For more information contact Elaine Toland on 01732 364546.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • For background information see our bird market campaign index.

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