Suffolk prepares to battle bird flu

SUFFOLK is set to step up contingency plans this year in case of an outbreak of avian flu, The Evening Star can reveal today.As the disease moves a closer to Britain following the death of a young Turkish boy of the disease this weekend it has emerged that extra funding is now being ploughed into the county.

SUFFOLK is set to step up contingency plans this year in case of an outbreak of avian flu, The Evening Star can reveal today.

As the disease moves a closer to Britain following the death of a young Turkish boy of the disease this weekend it has emerged that extra funding is now being ploughed into the county.

Trading Standards hopes to dedicate up to ten per cent of its annual funding to ensure the county could deal with the disease.

With the eastern region having the biggest poultry industry in the country Suffolk County Council hopes to spend £140,000 this year in preparation for an outbreak.

Trading Standards are applying to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which would allocate funding for the contingency plans.

It will hear in February if it has been given the go-ahead.

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Jill Korwin, trading standards officer, said: “We are prepared for an outbreak at the moment but if we can allocate the funding to the plans we can tighten things up even further.

“We want to make sure the county could deal with any outbreak of disease, not just avian flu.

“A lot of the funding will go to finding out which farms have birds and monitoring where they have come from and where they have travelled to.

“If an outbreak occurs it is vital to have this information to prevent it spreading any further and finding out which areas need quarantine.

“DEFRA will be called into the county if there is an outbreak so our job is to make sure all the relevant information is ready for them.”

DEFRA currently has no provision in its agreement with the county to develop contingency planning for potential disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth, swine fever and avian flu.

Mrs Korwin added: “The importance of having such plans in place was seen in the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak when the frightening rate of spread of disease was facilitated through the rapid trade in animals across county to county boundaries.

“The work is essential as through licensing and restrictions on animal movements it uses quarantine periods to minimise the risk of the spread of animal disease.”

n. What measures would you like to see in place? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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