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Asian strain of H5N1 confirmed

Date Published: 05/02/2007

The bird flu virus found on a farm in Suffolk has been identified as the Asian strain of H5N1.

This is the highly pathogenic version of the virus and can be fatal to human beings, however it is not thought to be able to pass easily from birds to people.

Defra has moved to contain the outbreak and is stressing that there is currently little threat to human health.

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews, which runs the farm near Lowestoft, said none of the birds affected by the outbreak had entered the food chain.

All those to have caught the disease worldwide had been in direct contact with infected birds. Current advice is that well-cooked poultry poses no threat to human health.

Poultry farmers and all bird keepers are being urged to be exceptionally vigilant and report any suspicions regarding the health of their birds to the relevant authorities immediately.