The British government said that a strain of bird flu that killed a parrot in quarantine is the H5N1 strain that can be lethal to humans and may have been passed on by Taiwanese birds.
Scientists determined that the parrot, imported from South America, died of the strain of avian flu that has killed more than 60 people in Asia, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement Sunday.
DEFRA said the closest match was a strain identified in ducks in China earlier this year. "It is not so similar to the strains isolated from Romania and Turkey," the statement said.
The genetic makeup of the virus changes slightly as it spreads, and scientists use such tests to track its migration across the world.
DEFRA's chief veterinarian, Debby Reynolds, said it seemed likely the parrot was infected with the flu virus while in the quarantine system, in a facility it was sharing with birds from Taiwan. She said tests were being conducted on Taiwanese birds that had died.
DEFRA said the parrot's death did not affect Britain's status as being free of avian flu, because it occurred in quarantine.