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Homeland Security

Hunt for bird flu source begins in Britain

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 5, IRNA
UK-Bird Flu
Experts on Monday continued their attempts to determine the source of an outbreak of bird flu at one of Britain's most famous industrialized poultry farms a Suffolk farm as several countries started to announce import bans.

Rural Affairs Minister Ben Bradshaw said that he expected the cull of some 160,000 turkeys at the Bernard Matthews farm in eastern England to be completed soon in an attempt to contain and eradicate the fatal H5N1 virus.

Speaking after a meeting of the government's emergency planning committee Cobra, Bradshaw said it was not helpful to speculate at this stage what might have caused the outbreak but that it was more important to eradicate it.

Speculation is that the outbreak may have been caused by migrating foreign birds, but according to the BBC, tests could take weeks and it is possible the exact cause will never be known.

The government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, said the virus was identical to a case in Hungary last month.

"There could be a direct contact between a Hungarian farm and the Bernard Matthews farm, by which I mean a person travelling from one to the other," King suggested.

A biosecurity zone has been set up around the farm at Holton, southwest of Lowestoft and a 10km surveillance zone has also been enforced.

Poultry owners in a wider restricted zone have been told to keep their flocks isolated from wild birds.

Japan and Russia were the first to announce a temporary suspension on the import of UK birds. Ireland also said it was banning the transport of British poultry to bird fairs.

Much of the media attention has focused on concern that the deadly disease may spread to humans, but officials have insisted that the risk is 'negligible'.


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