Avian Influenza In Poultry On Premises In England

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The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has today confirmed avian influenza in poultry on two premises in the East of England.

Avian influenza remains predominantly a disease that affects birds and there have been no reports at present of any illness in staff at the poultry farm.

Early laboratory tests have ruled out the H5 and H7 strains. Further investigations are underway.

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As a precaution and until more definitive evidence is available, the Agency has advised that a precautionary approach should be adopted – staff should use high levels of personal protective equipment to protect them from infection.

Nonetheless, any possibility of exposure is taken very seriously and the local Health Protection Unit is working closely with the premises owners, Defra and local NHS partners to ensure that all the necessary actions are being taken to protect those people who may have been exposed to the virus. We are also monitoring the health of those exposed to the poultry and there have been no reports at present of any flu like illness in staff.

Avian influenza, or 'bird flu', is a contagious disease of birds caused by viruses that normally only infects wild birds and, rarely, other species including domestic poultry. There is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

Dr Joe Kearney, Regional Director of the HPA in the East of England said: "Despite this occurrence the current level of risk to humans from avian flu is extremely low. To date there has been no evidence that current avian influenza viruses have adapted to spread easily in humans."

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