Low-pathogenic Avian Flu Virus Detected in Southern England

UK - The detection of a low-severity avian flu virus at a chicken farm in the county of Hampshire has prompted calls for increased awareness and biosecurity by the country's poultry farmers. The H7N7 variant is thought to be involved.
calendar icon 3 February 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

A low severity case of avian flu has been confirmed in chickens at a farm in Hampshire and robust action is being taken to prevent any spread of the disease, which poses very low risk to human health.

Tests have confirmed the outbreak as a low severity H7 strain of the disease, a much less severe form than the H5N8 strain found at a Yorkshire duck farm in November. There are no links between the two cases.

A 1-km poultry movement restriction zone has been imposed and the birds at the commercial chicken breeding farm are to be culled as part of our tried and tested procedures for responding swiftly and thoroughly when an outbreak occurs.

The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers.

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 for 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. Public Health England continues to work closely with Defra throughout this investigation."

A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency added: "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."

Andrew Large, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, said: “Swift action is being taken to control the outbreak and we are monitoring the situation closely. Avian influenza is a disease of birds and Public Health England have stated that the risk to public health is very low, whilst the Food Standards Agency state that there is no food safety risk for consumers”.

He added that poultry farmers are urged to maintain high vigilance and bio-security.

Anyone suspecting avian influenza should immediately contact their nearest Animal and Plant and Health Agency (APHA) office.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

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