Deadliest bird flu hits English farm - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/3/07

Deadliest bird flu hits English farm

More than 2,000 turkeys have died at a farm in Britain. More than 2,000 turkeys have died at a farm in Britain.

 An outbreak of bird flu on a farm run by Europe's biggest turkey manufacturer Bernard Matthews is the highly pathogenic H5N1 version of the virus which can kill humans, the European Commission said on Saturday.

Government veterinary experts were called to the farm near Lowestoft in eastern England late on Thursday. Preliminary tests showed the birds were killed by the H5 strain of avian flu.

The British government is enforcing EU-agreed controls to contain the outbreak, which means setting up a protection zone with a radius of 3 km (2 miles) and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected farm, the Commission said.

It was the second confirmed case of H5N1 in the 27-country European Union this year, following one in Hungary.

Television footage showed hundreds of dead turkeys being tipped into a lorry for disposal after the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs moved to contain the outbreak which has killed 2,500 birds on the farm.

"All poultry farmers are in shock as we had no inkling that is had suddenly turned up in England," National Farmers' Union Poultry Board chairman Charles Bourns told Reuters.

The farm has 160,000 turkeys, but only one of the 22 sheds that house the birds has so far been affected by the outbreak.

Strict movement controls are in place, poultry must be kept indoors, gatherings of poultry and other birds are prohibited, and on-farm biosecurity measures will be strengthened.

The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 270 people and killed at least 164 worldwide since 2003, most of them in Asia, and over 200 million birds have died from it or have been killed to prevent its spread.

In May, 50,000 chickens at three farms in Norfolk, also in eastern England and home to some of Europe's biggest poultry farms, were culled after the H7N3 strain was detected.

A wild swan found dead in Scotland in March had the H5N1 version of the virus. It was thought to have caught the disease elsewhere, died at sea and been washed ashore in Scotland.

Bourns said those two scares cost the British poultry industry 58 million pounds ($115 million) in 2006.

An outbreak of H7N3 in the Netherlands in 2003 led to the culling of a third of the poultry flock. It also infected around 90 people, including a veterinarian who died.

Avian flu expert Colin Butter of the Institute of Animal Health said: "This news is a bit surprising because it's not the time of year when we have a lot of bird migration.

"We would not expect this to happen in the middle of winter. If it was going to happen we would expect it to happen in spring.

"The next thing we need to know is if this is a primary or secondary case. If this is a secondary case it is much more serious. If this is the first case, or 'reference case' and we can stamp it out, the outbreak will be controlled."

Source: CNN Newsource

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