Wild birds may be source of H5N1

The acting chief veterinary officer, Fred Landeg, has said the avian influenza (AI) outbreak may have come from wild birds.

In a press conference yesterday at Defra headquarters, he said officials were keeping an "open mind" about how the virus reached the farm.

"We are at a very early stage of the investigation," he said.

But he added, "The initial sequence data suggests that it's closely related to outbreaks in the Czech Republic and Germany, which does suggest a possible wild bird source."

It was yesterday confirmed that the strain of AI that hit a farm on the Norfolk / Suffolk border is the highly pathogenic H5N1. A full epidemiological investigation is underway to determine the source of the outbreak and the cull of 6,500 birds is continuing today.

Defra has imposed a 3km protection zone around the site and a 10km surveillance zone. In addition, a new restricted zone has been put in place, which covers much of Norfolk and the whole of Suffolk. Poultry keepers in the restricted zone are required to isolate poultry from wild birds. Movements within this zone can take place, but movements are not permitted out of the new zone at present.

No movements of poultry are permitted at present in the 3km and 10km zones around the infected premises.

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