Consumers are less concerned about the risks to human health posed by avian flu than they were before a dead bird infected with the H5N1 strain of the virus was discovered in Scotland, new findings indicate.

A national survey of 1,000 consumers by research agency MarketTools over the Easter weekend - two weeks after the discovery of the swan in Cellardyke, in Fife - indicated that general concern over bird flu had dropped to 37% from the 50% reported in February in a previous, identical survey.

In February one in ten consumers said avian flu would give them a reason to stop eating poultry, but this figure had dropped to one in 20 by Easter.

The results also showed that 49% of respondents agreed at Easter that bird flu could not be transferred to humans through eating contaminated poultry meat, compared with 42% in the February survey.

Meanwhile, 60% of the respondents agreed at Easter that cooking poultry thoroughly ensured the food's safety, up from 46% in February.

Asked if bird flu would have an impact on their family's consumption of poultry, 62% of respondents stated at Easter that it would have no effect, up from 50% in February.

The proportion of consumers who agreed that bird flu would reduce their consumption of poultry fell from 27% in February to 19% in April.

MarketTools business development director Giles Shapley said: "The UK poultry industry should take heart from these results. There has been a positive strengthening in consumer attitudes towards the risk of avian flu.

"The message of safety does seem to be getting through, but this should be noted against the backdrop of significantly less media coverage. The true test of consumer confidence will be measured if and when cases become more prevalent."