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Avian Influenza

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) date and (b) location was of each outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in UK poultry; what type of bird was involved in each case; what action was taken to contain each outbreak; and what the source was of the infection in each case. [128999]

Mr. Bradshaw: There have been three confirmed outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in UK poultry.

In 1959, H5N1 avian influenza was detected in a flock of chickens in Scotland. In 1991, H5N1 avian influenza was detected in turkeys in Norfolk, England. In both cases the birds were culled and the disease was confined to a single premises.

On the basis of genetic analysis, the H5N1 viruses discovered in 1959 and 1991 were a different strain to the H5N1 Asiatic strain which is currently circulating. The source of neither outbreak was ever firmly established.

Most recently, on 3 February 2007, H5N1 avian influenza was confirmed at a Bernard Matthews turkey farm in Holton, Suffolk. In accordance with EU legislation, a 3 kilometre Protection Zone, a 10 kilometre Surveillance Zone and a further Restriction Zone around the infected premises were put in place. Extensive guidance was issued to bird keepers in the zones on biosecurity measures to protect their birds from avian influenza. The birds on the infected premises were humanely culled and disposed of according to DEFRAs published Contingency Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases.

Within the area around the infected premises, there were enhanced levels of surveillance of wild birds. While the investigation in the outbreak was under way, 25 wild bird locations comprising 73 sites in the area were regularly patrolled. Laboratory tests were completed on dead wild birds found in the area as well as on live wild bird droppings from the infected premises. All results were negative.

We are currently developing our investigation into what might have caused the outbreak of avian influenza at Holton. The conclusion of the interim report is that importation from Hungary is the most plausible route. However, investigations are still ongoing and nothing can be ruled out at this time. The final epidemiological report will be published in due course.

23 Mar 2007 : Column 1165W



































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