As bird flu finally reaches Britain’s shores, the government has begun outlining the precautions it intends putting in place to protect the public in the event of a full scale outbreak. “Clearly, identifying infected birds is the most obvious precaution the public can take to prevent the spread of avian flu,” explains government scientist Bernard Pickle. “People should be on the look out for any birds displaying symptoms: snot-encrusted bills, excessive coughing and sneezing, complaints of headaches and temperatures, that sort of thing.” Pickle concedes that birds suffering the most severe symptoms will probably stay at home, but believes that even in these cases, the public might still be able to identify infected birds. “If any birds keep their young home from school, for instance, their nests should be checked. If the entire family is found wrapped in duvets huddled around a three bar electric fire watching daytime television, then they should be reported to the authorities immediately,” he says. “We should all be especially vigilant around pharmacies – if you see any ducks or other fowl attempting to buy aspirins, lemsips (particularly if it is ‘Flu Strength’), or throat lozenges, call the police. Under no circumstances approach them yourselves, particularly if they are wearing scarves.” The top Home Office scientist is at pains to point out that the risk of bird flu being transmitted to humans is very low, requiring intimate contact with infected fowl. “Just don’t have sexual relations with any chickens – trust me, we know for a fact that the only way humans have been infected in certain overseas outbreaks is through the filthy sexual practices of depraved foreign-types,” Pickle claims. “Clearly, there is little risk of that sort of thing happening in good old Blighty! Nonetheless, just to make out sure, provision has been made to incarcerate all pigeon fanciers and registered wild fowl molesters for the duration of any major outbreak!” However, Pickle has warned that if avian flu does spread to humans, then the public must be prepared to take further precautions. “In the event of human infection, I would urge people to think twice before taking a day off work sick,” he warns. “A doctor’s certificate will be essential. If you merely try to rely on self-certification and phone into work saying you’ll be off for a few days with a cold, your employer will be required by law to report this to the authorities as a suspected bird flu infection. Consequently, you could find the police kicking in your door as you watch Neighbours, shooting you in the head and burning your body. Under these circumstances, we would strongly suggest that it would be better for those with minor ailments to simply suffer in silence.”

However, Tory leader David Cameron has condemned the government’s advice as being “too little, too late”. Writing in his regular Daily Excess column, Cameron claimed that the threat from bird flu could have been eliminated months ago if the government hadn’t been so soft on migration. “The fact is that they have continued to allow tens of thousands of foreign birds to illegally migrate into this country – all of them potential avian flu carriers,” he asserted in the pages of the reactionary rag. “It is obvious that this is a purely foreign threat – no indigenous British birds have so far contracted the disease! The only recorded case in the UK has been confirmed as a foreign swan!” The top Tory used his newspaper column to call upon the government to round up all illegal migratory birds found in the UK and have them slaughtered, or repatriated, (whichever appealed most to the prejudices of Tory voters). The Daily Excess has subsequently launched its own campaign to combat illegal avian migrants, calling upon Britain’s duck and pheasant hunters to mobilise and stand on the country’s coastlines, ready to bring down any incoming birds in a hail of shotgun pellets. “Not only will it safeguard the lives of British citizens, but is also a way for the hunting fraternity to show this government just how vital they are to the nation’s security,” explains Excess editor Roger Mouldiworp. The paper has also been running a series of articles claiming that illegal immigrants were trying to smuggle infected birds into the UK at the behest of Al Qaieda. “Only last week two Algerian Muslim women were stopped by customs at Dover when it was noticed that their breasts had started moving and squawking – they were found to have several ducks stuffed down their bras,” claims Mouldiworp. “The ducks are still being checked for bird flu, but it is obvious that this is all part of a devilish plot to undermine the British way of life by destroying our poultry and forcing us to eat foreign filth like kebabs, instead.” Mouldiworp believes that Britain’s top public figures could be at imminent risk from bird terror attacks. “It has already happened in America – just look at how Vice President Cheney was forced to shoot that guy who came at him with an infected quail,” he says. “Next thing you know, someone could be lunging at the Queen with a deadly cockerel that they’d smuggled into Britain inside their pants!”

There are fears that the Excess‘ campaign and the government’s advice could simply be creating a climate of fear in which perfectly innocent birds are targeted by mobs of vigilantes. Indeed, the avian backlash may even have started, with one Stourbridge woman claiming she was left tarred and feathered for ‘collaborating’ after her neighbours stormed her house in search of her pet African parrot. “You know what small communities are like, because Leopold was African, rumours started that he was an illegal immigrant,” Fifty-eight year old Barbara Wagtail told The Sleaze. “Then the vicar let slip in the pub that he’d heard him speaking what sounded like Arabic – the day after that I got a sack full of cats through the window!” A campaign of hate followed, with threatening letters and excrement put through the letterbox and racist graffiti sprayed across the front of the house. “Next thing I knew, a huge mob wearing masks and waving flaming torches were breaking down my door!” Says Wagtail, who was forced to look on, terrified, as the vigilantes chased Leopold the parrot around the house, firing air pistols and throwing crockery and ornaments at him. ” He was too fast for them and escaped through an open window, hurling insults and inviting them to ‘give us a kiss, darling’!” However, his escape was short-lived, as the mob had already spread nets across the house’s windows. Wagtail was dragged into the garden and forced to watch as the unfortunate parrot was plucked of its brightly coloured plumage before having its neck wrung. “Then they smeared me in his droppings and threw poor little Leopold’s feathers over me,” she sobs. “They were shouting ‘If you like those foreign feathered bastards so much, you can look like one!’ It took me hours to scrape the mess off!” Since Wagtail’s ordeal, several similar incidents have been reported, including seven ducks being mown down in a drive-by shooting at a Warwickshire village pond and a pack of feral cats being let loose in a Poole bird sanctuary. In Manchester, casualties are said to be in three figures after a series of fire bomb attacks on pigeon lofts, whilst Lowestoft police reported an axe attack on a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. Nevertheless, the authorities maintain that such outbreaks of anti-bird violence are merely isolated incidents and are urging the public to remain calm. As Professor Pickle told a recent news conference: “Just because we are all going to die horribly, there really is no reason for panic.”