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UK government at forefront in preparation for outbreak of influenza

by 5m Editor
7 February 2007, at 10:33am

UK - The Department of Health is reassuring the public, all poultry keepers and those involved in the slaughter of the 159,000 turkeys that the risk of contracting the H5N1 strain of avian influenza is negligible.

A spokesperson for the DoH told Farmers Weekly that the risk of infection was so low that only those “incredibly close” to the infected birds were at risk.

“Even then you would have to be drinking infected blood or eating infected faeces to be at risk,” said the spokesperson.

But, it is taking few chances. By the time the cull finished on Tuesday morning (6 February) those involved in the slaughter and disposal of the birds had received the seasonal flu vaccination as a precaution and the majority had also received the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

And, as a further precaution, all poultry keepers have been offered the seasonal flu vaccination. The DoH has also stockpiled 14.6m doses of Tamiflu – enough to treat a quarter of the population – at a cost of £120m as well as 3.7m doses of H5N1 vaccine.

The H5N1 supplies may be used to conduct further research on the immune responses generated by these vaccines. In the event of a pandemic, these stocks could be used to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers (such as nurses) before a specific pandemic vaccine can be developed.

Health officials fear that if an individual were to contract the seasonal form of the virus and then come in to contact with the H5N1 strain it could mutate in to one easily transferable between humans initiating a pandemic.

Source:fwi.co.uk

5m Editor