Government releases bird flu report

THE “most plausible” cause of the outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu at the Suffolk farm is that it was transmitted through the importation of poultry products from Hungary, the Government has announced.

THE “most plausible” cause of the outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu at the Suffolk farm is that it was transmitted through the importation of poultry products from Hungary, the Government has announced.

An interim report into the source of the outbreak at the Bernard Matthews farm in Holton, near Halesworth, has been published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

It identifies two possible hypotheses for the introduction of H5N1 into the premises.

The report concludes that there is “little evidence” to support the first theory that it was transmitted from a wild bird.


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This draws on advice from expert ornithologists and the fact that H5N1 has not been found in the wild bird population in Europe since August 2006, the report says.

In addition to this, extensive surveillance from the infected premises and the surrounding area has not isolated any trace of H5N1 in wild birds.

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The second hypothesis examined in the report is the spread of the virus associated with the importation of poultry products from Hungary.

This is supported by the final virology results from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) confirming that the virus strain found in poultry in Suffolk is “essentially identical” to that which caused the outbreaks in Hungary, the report says.

The interim report therefore concludes that “currently the most plausible” route of transmission is associated with the importation of poultry products via Hungary.

Fred Landeg, deputy chief vet said: “We are still yet to reach a final conclusion and our investigation will continue to be all-embracing in respect of possible means of introduction of the virus.

“However, these reports set out the current state of expert thinking and explain the rationale behind the most plausible explanation for how transfer of the virus could have occurred.

“It should nonetheless be recognised that we may never be able to conclusively pinpoint the original source of the virus.”

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