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Old February 3rd, 2007, 05:18 AM  
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Join Date: April 3, 2006
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Default Bird Flu Found In Suffolk

Experts are trying to establish whether an outbreak of bird flu at a Suffolk turkey farm is the deadly H5N1 strain. The farm, owned by Bernard Matthews, is at Holton near Lowestoft and has been placed under tight restrictions.

More than 2,600 turkeys have died so far.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said preliminary tests had confirmed a bird flu outbreak.

But a spokeswoman said the risk of the disease spreading to humans was low and there was no

need for "panic".

She said staff at the farm - thought to be in the village of Holton - were being monitored and restrictions were in force to stop birds being moved in or out of the site.

The birds started to die on Tuesday and Defra was alerted on Thursday after 860 birds had died, in one out of 22 sheds at the farm.

Defra has yet to say whether any exclusions zones will be set up and how many birds will have to be slaughtered.

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said the incident had been contained and all the infected birds culled, without any entering the food chain.

He said: "Bernard Matthews has been working very closely with Defra and other industry bodies to contain the infection. The company meets and in many cases far exceeds Defra's biosecurity standards for combating avian flu."

It is the second time in less than 12 months that UK-reared poultry has been hit by bird flu.

More than 30,000 birds were slaughtered after chickens near Dereham, Norfolk, tested positive in April.

One worker at the farm caught the disease and was treated for an eye infection.

In April 2006, a wild swan found in Cellardyke, Fife, had the version of the virus - H5N1 - which has been responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people, mostly in Asia.

The swan was thought to have caught the disease abroad, died at sea and its body washed to the UK shore.

Defra said experts had confirmed that latest the outbreak was a H5 version.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "Avian Influenza is a disease of birds and whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty to humans, this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces."

Suffolk County Council has set up a bird flu helpline on 08456 032 814

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