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H5N1 Avian Influenza Confirmed In Poultry


Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

H5N1 Avian Influenza confirmed in poultry

Following further test results from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) the Acting Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that the strain of Avian Influenza present at the Infected Premises near Diss is the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain. Further characterisation of the virus is in progress, which may give an indication of the origin of the strain.

Local authorities and Animal Health are enforcing a 3km Protection Zone, a 10km Surveillance Zone and a wider Restricted Zone covering the whole of Suffolk and most of Norfolk around the Infected Premises. In these zones, movement restrictions will be imposed and poultry must be isolated from wild birds.

In addition, it has been announced that the national general licence on bird gatherings has been revoked, and bird shows and pigeon racing will not be permitted for the time being.

A full epidemiological investigation and tracings of any dangerous contacts are underway and all possible sources of the outbreak will be investigated.

Fred Landeg, the Acting Chief Veterinary Officer said:

"We are keeping all poultry keepers registered on the Great Britain Poultry register informed of the developing situation and I must stress how important it is for all poultry keepers in the locality to be extremely vigilant. They must report any suspicions of disease to their Animal Health office immediately and practice the highest levels of biosecurity.

"We have faced H5N1 once already this year, but there is still significant uncertainty surrounding this outbreak. Swift reporting of disease and stringent biosecurity is essential to controlling this disease and we are working to our established contingency plans.

The European Commission has been informed of this development.

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. 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.

3. All avian influenzas (H1 to H16) can be low pathogenic but only H5 and H7 are known to become highly pathogenic.

4. All poultry keepers registered with the GB Poultry Register will be contacted by text message with updates. All poultry keepers responsible for a premises with 50 or more birds are legally required to register. Defra strongly encourages those with less than 50 birds to register voluntarily.

5. 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

6. 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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