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U.K. sets up bird flu database

Commercial poultry keepers will be asked to register their flocks to help the government identify any outbreaks.

The U.K. government is setting up a central poultry database to help identify any outbreaks of bird flu.

Commercial poultry keepers will be asked to register their flocks as part of an initiative, as no central register exists.

on one database containing the location and size of poultry businesses could prove a major advantage to aiding effective communication between keepers and helping to manage any outbreak.

Work will start on the registrations within the next month.

"The European directive on avian influenza will require us to introduce a poultry register by 2007 but we must move much faster than that," Margaret Beckett, secretary of the U.K.'s Environment Food and Rural Affairs, said in a statement.

"This database would be another safeguard to help identify an outbreak but, more importantly, limit its spread. It would allow us to know where poultry farms are and target efforts and resources effectively," she said.

The U.K. has the second-biggest poultry industry in Europe after France, producing almost 14 percent of Europe's poultry meat.

Steve Ranger of Silicon.com reported from London.