BRITAIN is increasingly likely to be hit by bird flu, the government warned yesterday.
Ben Bradshaw, the animal health minister, said confirmation the disease had spread to more European Union countries meant it was now more likely to reach British shores.
However, he cautioned that an outbreak is not inevitable and insisted the government was not closing the countryside in the face of the threat. He said: "The closer it gets to us, the risk grows. But according to vets it is still low."
With four out of six affected EU countries confirming that the outbreaks are the deadliest H5N1 strain, they backed European Commission calls for extra "buffer zones" around infection regions.
Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Germany have notified of H5N1 outbreaks, but test results are still awaited on virus samples from Austria and Hungary.