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H5N1 Update: Precautionary Culling At 4 More Sites


Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (UK)

H5N1 Avian Influenza update: precautionary culling on four further premises

Following initial epidemiological work and veterinary assessment, four further premises have been identified as Dangerous Contacts. All poultry on these premises will be culled as a precautionary measure. These premises are within the existing Restricted Zone. This action is in line with our contingency plans and takes into account the level of assessed risk at this early stage in the outbreak. In addition, some general licences to address immediate welfare issues in the area covered by the zones are being issued today.

Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Fred Landeg said:

"At this stage we have not confirmed disease on any of these four premises. This is a precautionary measure taken to prevent any potential spread of the disease. "I must stress again that poultry keepers in the area must be extremely vigilant, practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health office."

The strain of Avian Influenza present at the Infected Premises near Diss was confirmed yesterday as the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain. This strain is similar to that found in Germany and the Czech Republic during the summer. Further characterisation of the virus is in progress. A full epidemiological investigation into the source of the outbreak is underway.

The national ban on bird gatherings remains firmly in place. Movement restrictions apply in the Protection, Surveillance and Restricted Zones. It has been decided today to allow some low-risk movements under general licence, including the movement of poultry to slaughter from outside the Surveillance Zone to inside and the movement of table eggs to designated packing centres for distribution. In addition, the movement of day old chicks out of the Surveillance Zone may be permitted under specific licence from Animal Health.

Notes:

1. The Defra Helpline (08459 33 55 77) is currently open 6am - 10pm 7 days per week. Poultry keepers can also call the Animal Health recorded information line for the latest updates, on 0844 884 4600.

2. The details on the measures that apply in the current zones can be found on the Defra website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/disease/ai/latest-situation/index.htm

3. Avian Influenza is a disease of birds and whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty to humans, this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces. As a precautionary measure those who might have been exposed would be offered the appropriate treatment and protection in line with established protocols. Advice from the Food Standards Agency remains that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

4. This is the fourth case of avian influenza this year:

- February 2007 - H5N1 Avian Influenza in poultry, Upper Holton, Suffolk

- May 2007 - H7N2 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Corwen, Conwy, North Wales

- June 2007 - H7 avian influenza near St Helens, Merseyside, England


ENDS

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