Bird flu outbreak in Suffolk

AN investigation is underway at two poultry farms in Suffolk and Norfolk following an outbreak of bird flu.

AN outbreak of bird flu at poultry farms in Suffolk and Norfolk poses a low threat to human health, health officials said this afternoon.

Vets from Defra have carried out tests at Bernard Matthews breeder sites in Ubbeston, near Halesworth, and near Yaxham, close to Dereham.

But the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said it poses a “very low risk” to human health.

As a result they are not recommending providing staff at the two farms with Tamiflu treatment.

The birds tested positive for avian influenza but not the highly pathogenic H5 or H7 types.

Although no birds have been culled there has been a restriction placed on their movement.

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A spokeswoman for Defra said: “A routine veterinary investigation is ongoing at poultry premises into the possible presence of a notifiable avian disease. Laboratory tests are ongoing and there is no conclusion yet.

“Routine veterinary investigations into notifiable diseases occur on a regular basis.

“It is a legal requirement to notify the Animal Health Agency of the possibility of such diseases whenever these cannot be ruled out by a vet or an animal keeper as part of the diagnosis of illness in animals or birds.”

She added: “Restrictions remain in place on the premises while the investigation continues.

“No further precautionary restrictions are considered necessary in the area at present, based on information to date.

“We would urge poultry keepers, especially those in the East Anglia area, to heighten their vigilance for disease amongst their birds.

“This reinforces the need to continue to promptly report suspected cases, and implement and maintain appropriate levels of bio-security at all times.”

Vets were called in to the company after an unusual drop in egg production levels, a spokesman for Bernard Matthews said.

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