Bird flu restrictions lifted

SUFFOLK'S remaining restrictions put in place after the two outbreaks of bird flu in the county were lifted today, but officials say they will remain vigilant.

SUFFOLK'S remaining restrictions put in place after the two outbreaks of bird flu in the county were lifted today, but officials say they will remain vigilant.

Poultry farmer across the region lived out their worst nightmares in November when the virus, which can be transmitted from animals to humans and is potentially lethal, was found at two farms.

Today they will breathe a sigh of relief after the minimum time limit of 30 days following the cleansing of infected premises - Hill Meadow Farm in Knettishall, near Diss, was reached, allowing the restrictions to go.

But the Government's acting chief veterinary officer has said that the investigation into the source of the outbreak will continue and vigilance is necessary to ensure any further outbreaks are detected as early as possible.

Fred Landing said: “Although this marks the end of our active diseases control measures in the affected area, we continue to investigate the source of the virus introduction, and expect to publish a final epidemiology report in the new year.

“Poultry keepers must endeavour to learn from this outbreak to prevent and manage similar situations in the future.

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“All should regularly review their biosecurity measures to ensure they meet best practice and remain vigilant for signs of disease.”

The first restrictions put in place were three kilometre protection zones around the two infected premises - Hill Meadow Farm and Redgrave Park Farm, which share a workforce.

Tests at three further farms in the county which workers also travelled between found no further cases and those restrictions were lifted on December 8 and 10.

Worldwide, millions of birds have been destroyed since the feared H5N1 strain emerged in south-east Asia in 2003.

It is the first identified strain of the disease which can be transmitted from animals to humans, and in people it is thought to have a 60 per cent mortality rate.

What do you think of the response to the bird flu outbreak in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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