Bird flu confirmed in Oxfordshire

Defra have confirmed a case of Avian Influenza near Banbury, Oxfordshire after preliminary tests on chickens were positive for the H7 strain.

Further tests will be carried out to establish whether the strain is of high or low pathogenicity, but all birds on the premises will be slaughtered as a precautionary measure.

A detailed epidemiological investigation to better understand the origin and development of the disease is underway.

A Temporary Control Zone with a 3km inner zone and a 10km outer zone has been established around the infected premises. All birds must be housed or otherwise isolated from contact with wild birds in the inner zone. Bird gatherings are banned and all other movements of birds and some products are banned in the whole of the Temporary Control Zone. Defra is urgently considering whether any wider measures may be needed.

Chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "I would stress the need for poultry keepers to be extremely vigilant, practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health Office immediately."

In its statement, the Health Protection Agency stressed that H7 avian flu is largely a disease that affects birds and does not transmit easily to humans.

Dr Judith Hilton, Food Standards Agency head of microbiological safety, said: "This case of bird flu on a premises in Banbury, Oxfordshire poses no safety implications for the human food chain. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat. The science shows that the virus isn't contracted by eating food - but usually by close contact with infected birds."

All poultry keepers on the GB Poultry Register are being notified, and the EU Commission has been informed.

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