The European Commission has confirmed that the bird flu virus that killed 2,600 turkeys at a farm in eastern England in the first week of February 2007 was the virulent h5n1 strain. It is for the first time this strain has been found in Britain. There is no clarity as yet about the source of the uk outbreak.
The outbreak occurred at a factory farm run by one of Britain's biggest poultry producers, Bernard Matthews, in the village of Holton in Suffolk county. Following the outbreak, cullers have gassed all the 159,000 turkeys as precaution. The carcasses were transported in sealed lorries for incineration to a rendering plant in Staffordshire, central England. Farm workers and those involved in the cull were given anti-viral drugs and a biosecurity zone has been set up around the Holton farm. A three-km protection zone and 10-km surveillance zone is being observed around the farm. A further restricted zone covering 2,090 sq km has been imposed around East Suffolk and South East Norfolk, within which all poultry must be kept isolated from wild birds.
The outbreak now threatens the uk's poultry business. Russia, Macedonia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Hong Kong and Jersey have banned British poultry imports, while other European countries have imposed restrictions on their flocks to minimise the risk of the infection spreading.
Following the outbreak, the Bernard Matthews farm claimed no affected bird has entered the food chain, and that there is no risk to consumers. Government scientists in the uk said the outbreak is being contained, and that it posed no immediate danger to human health. But reports say the government has started preparation to deal with flu pandemic in case the disease mutates.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.