H5N1 hits second farm in UK

Nov 19, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – A second turkey farm in the Suffolk-Norfolk area of England has been hit by the H5N1 avian influenza virus, though the flock there appeared healthy, British authorities announced today.

A BBC News report identified the affected farm as Hill Meadow Farm, Knettishall, a few miles northwest of the farm where the virus was confirmed on Nov 13. The earlier outbreak site is near the town of Diss, about 107 miles northeast of London. Both farms are operated by the same company, the report said.

The second outbreak site is one of four farms that the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) listed as "Dangerous Contact" premises last week. "On clinical inspection the flock appeared healthy which indicates the infection was in its early stages," DEFRA said in a statement today.

All the poultry at the four "Dangerous Contact" sites, totaling about 28,600 birds, had been culled as of yesterday, DEFRA said. Culling at the second outbreak site was completed Nov 17.

Hill Meadow Farm lies outside a 3-kilometer protection zone that was set up around the first outbreak site, Redgrave Park Farm, but inside a wider restricted area that encompasses Suffolk and parts of Norfolk, the BBC story said.

DEFRA said it was setting up a 3-kilometer protection zone around the new outbreak site and extending a surveillance zone established earlier.

The BBC said DEFRA is still awaiting the results of lab tests on poultry at two other area farms where culling was carried out.

Authorities have not yet reported the full results of an investigation into possible sources of the virus. Last week DEFRA officials said initial genetic sequence data indicated the strain was closely related to H5N1 viruses found recently in the Czech Republic and Germany.

In the DEFRA statement, Acting Chief Veterinary Office Fred Landeg said, "The laboratory test results today highlight the importance of poultry keepers in the area being extremely vigilant. It is essential they practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health office."

The United Kingdom has had one previous H5N1 outbreak in poultry, at the Bernard Matthews turkey operation about 70 miles northeast of London in February. Authorities never firmly identified the source of the virus but said it probably came from turkey meat imported from Hungary.

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