Avian Influenza in Oxfordshire: H7 strain confirmed as Highly Pathogenic
Following further laboratory results, the Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that the strain of H7 Avian Influenza present in laying hens at the farm in Banbury is highly pathogenic. Further laboratory tests are in progress to identify the N type and possible relationships with previously identified viruses. A detailed epidemiological investigation to better understand the origin and development of the disease is also underway. The 3km inner and 10km outer Temporary Control Zone was established on 3 June with measures appropriate to a highly pathogenic strain. These measures remain in place and existing restrictions continue to apply.
These restrictions include the housing or otherwise isolation from contact with wild birds in the inner 3km zone. All bird gatherings in the Temporary Control Zone are banned. Other movements of birds and some products are also banned in the whole of the Temporary Control Zone. Defra is urgently considering whether any wider measures may be needed. Please see the Defra website for detailed information on the restrictions.
The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health remains low. The Food Standards Agency has also confirmed that there are no safety implications for the human food chain.
The Health Protection Agency has advised that it is important to remember that H7 avian flu remains largely a disease of birds. The virus does not transmit easily to humans, as evidenced by the small number of confirmed infections worldwide to date. Almost all human H7 infections documented so far have been associated with close contact with dead or dying poultry. The risk to human health posed by H7 avian influenza viruses remains low. Nonetheless, the local Health Protection Unit will be identifying and following up those who may have had contact with the infected poultry and provide guidance and advice, and preventative medication as appropriate.
Dr Judith Hilton, Food Standards Agency head of microbiological safety, said:
“This case of bird flu on a premises in Banbury, Oxfordshire poses no safety implications for the human food chain.
“Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat. The science shows that the virus isn't contracted by eating food – but usually by close contact with infected birds.”
All poultry keepers on the GB Poultry Register are being notified, and the EU Commission has been informed.
Poultry keepers are urged to be extremely vigilant, practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health Office immediately.
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