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Avian Flue Found In Poultry Farm In Norfolk

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Chickens test for bird flu strain

The birds will be killed as a 'precautionary' measure

Some 35,000 chickens at a farm near Dereham, in Norfolk, are to be slaughtered after dead birds tested positive for a strain of bird flu.

Early tests showed it was likely to be the H7 strain, virulent among chickens but less of a risk to humans than the H5N1 variant, which can be fatal.

The government's chief vet said she did not know where the flu had come from.

Last month a swan in Cellardyke, Fife, tested positive for H5N1 - the only confirmed case in the UK so far.

There have been H7 outbreaks in North Korea and in the Netherlands, which led the Dutch government to order the slaughter of more than 30 million birds in 2003.

The cases in Norfolk were found in samples taken from chickens on the farm, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

'Highly precautionary'

Chief vet Debby Reynolds told the BBC she expected further test results to reveal more about the bird flu strain over the next 24 hours.

"Those results will allow us to decide whether it's the highly pathogenic dangerous form to birds, which kills a lot of birds, or the low pathogenic which is a much less serious infection."


Bird flu

She said no decision had been taken on whether to destroy poultry on neighbouring farms, adding that the slaughter was a "highly precautionary" measure to ensure there was no spread of the disease.

"The other investigation is, where did it come from? And at this stage we don't know the answer to that," she said.

Earlier, a Defra spokesman said the farm had been placed under "restrictions", adding: "When the additional laboratory results are known, further action may be taken."

Human health

Defra stressed that at this stage there was no confirmation that the virus had health implications for humans.

The 2003 outbreak of H7 in the Netherlands infected more than 80 people.

A vet working on an infected Dutch farm caught the disease and later died of pneumonia.

The H5N1 virus has killed more than 100 people in Asia.

But neither strain poses a large-scale threat to humans as bird flu cannot pass easily from one person to another.

Humans also have to have extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly their faeces, in the first place to catch it.

However, some experts fear the H5N1 virus could mutate and trigger a flu pandemic, potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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