27/04/2006

Chickens culled following bird flu find

Around 35,000 chickens are to be slaughtered at a poultry farm in Norfolk, following the discovery of bird flu among dead chickens.

The dead birds were found at the Witford Lodge Farm in Norfolk. It is believed that they were probably infected with the H7 string of the virus, not the deadly H5N1 virus which can be fatal in humans.

Further tests are being conducted on the birds and restrictions have been placed on the farm.

There has been only one case of the H5N1 virus in the UK. The virus was found in a dead swan, which was discovered in Cellardyke in Fife last month.

The H7 virus is not as big a risk to humans as H5N1, which has killed more than 100 people, mainly in Asia. H7 can infect humans, but the symptoms are not as severe as H5N1 and fatalities are rare.

An outbreak of the H7N7 strain of the virus led to the culling of 30 million birds in the Netherlands in 2003 and cost the industry hundreds of millions of euros.

The alert has sparked fears in the UK poultry industry, which is worth around £3 billion per year.

(KMcA/CD)

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