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Experts probe bird flu case at farm


Public Health England said the risk to public health from the bird flu outbreak was very low

Public Health England said the risk to public health from the bird flu outbreak was very low

Public Health England said the risk to public health from the bird flu outbreak was very low

Experts are working to establish the source of an outbreak of bird flu at a farm in Hampshire.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said a "low severity" outbreak of avian flu has been confirmed in chickens.

MP for Meon Valley George Hollingbery said the disease was found in the village of Upham.

A 1km poultry restriction zone has been imposed and the birds at the commercial chicken breeding farm, which has not been named, are to be culled as part of action to prevent any spread of the disease.

The outbreak has been identified as the H7 strain, which is described by officials as "much less severe" than the H5N8 strain found at a Yorkshire duck farm in November.

Defra said there are no links between the two cases, while Public Health England said the risk to public health is very low.

There is no food safety risk for consumers, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens said:"We have taken immediate action to contain this outbreak as part of our robust procedures for dealing swiftly with avian flu.

"This is a low severity form of the virus and we are taking action to ensure that the disease does not spread or develop into a more severe form. We are investigating the possible sources of the outbreak.

"I would urge poultry keepers in the surrounding area to be vigilant for any signs of disease and to ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises."

Nick Phin, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control said: "Based on what we know about this strain of avian influenza and the actions that have been taken, the risk to human health in this case is considered very low."

A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said: "On the basis of current scientific evidence, Food Standards Agency advice is that avian (bird) flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

"Laboratory investigations on the outbreak indicate that it is the N7 sub-type of H7 but this will need to be confirmed in further testing."

Mr Hollingbery said the news was "very concerning".

He said yesterday: "I've been liaising closely with Public Health England, based in Fareham, Hampshire County Council and Defra throughout today to ensure I'm kept up to date with developments.

"It appears that all precautions have taken place to ensure this problem is dealt with effectively and the experts are doing all they can to identify exactly what type of H7 strain it could be.

"Most importantly, I have been told that presently any danger to the public is very low and this is very welcome news. The strain is a mild one and is not similar to the recent outbreak at a duck farm in East Yorkshire.

"However, there is no doubt the authorities are taking it very seriously and regular updates will be issued in due course."

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