Confirmed H7N7 Avian Influenza In Oxfordshire Poultry Farm

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Following confirmation of the avian influenza virus subtype as H7N7, the Health Protection Agency has reviewed actions taken in the Oxfordshire poultry farm outbreak.

Based on the best evidence available from national flu experts, the Agency remains confident that all necessary steps are being taken to protect those people who may have been exposed to the virus on the premises or who are involved in disease control activities.

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Director of the Thames Valley Health Protection Unit, Dr Elizabeth Haworth said: "H7 avian flu remains largely a disease in birds, which does not transmit easily to humans. The disease on the Oxfordshire poultry farm was identified at an early stage and the Agency has been actively involved in assessing the risk and providing help and support, including ensuring all people who needed post exposure treatment with antiviral agents and seasonal flu vaccine received this and that those involved in disease control activities also received appropriate treatment before starting work.

"We have also set up enhanced surveillance of people exposed to infected poultry, checking daily for any symptoms of illness which may emerge even though the risk to humans remains very low."

Professor Nigel Lightfoot, Head of Influenza Programmes at the Health Protection Agency, said: "Despite this occurrence the current level of risk to humans from avian flu is very low. Most human H7 infections so far have occurred through direct contact with live or dead infected poultry. However, any possibility of exposure to the virus is taken very seriously and the local Health Protection Unit is working closely with Defra and Animal Health to ensure that all the necessary steps are being taken to protect those people who may have been exposed to the virus on the premises or are involved in disease control activities."

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