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Low-Path Bird Flu at Bernard Matthews Farms

by 5m Editor
27 February 2009, at 8:50a.m.

UK - A routine veterinary investigation is ongoing at two poultry premises in East Anglia into the possible presence of notifiable avian disease, Defra has confirmed. A statement from Bernard Matthews, on whose farm the infection has been found, says that the virus is neither of the known highly pathogenic sub-types and that precautionary measures have been put in place.

Animal Health began the investigation late on Tuesday evening (24 February). Laboratory tests are ongoing and there is no conclusion yet. However, laboratory results so far have confirmed the presence of an avian influenza virus, and that it is neither H5 nor H7.

Restrictions remain in place on the premises while the investigation continues. No further precautionary restrictions are considered necessary in the area at present.

Routine veterinary investigations into notifiable diseases occur on a regular basis. It is a legal requirement to notify the Animal Health agency of the possibility of such diseases whenever these cannot be ruled out by a vet or an animal keeper as part of the diagnosis of illness in animals or birds.

Statement from Bernard Matthews

Bernard Matthews Farms can confirm that Defra have undertaken tests for avian influenza on two of its small breeder farms, following notification from the Company of an unusual drop in egg production levels.

The tests have shown a positive result for an avian influenza virus but Defra have confirmed that this is not either of the highly pathogenic types H5 and H7.

As a precautionary measure and out of a duty of care for our employees, we have sought guidance from the Health Protection Agency (HPA). They have advised that this type of avian influenza poses very low risk to human health and do not recommend providing Tamiflu treatment to our staff.

Whilst the two small breeder farms remain under movement restrictions until Defra have completed its tests, Bernard Matthews Farms other operations continue to run as normal.

Avian influenza is a disease of birds that continues to pose a threat to poultry flocks both in the UK and around the world. Bernard Matthews has in place clear procedures to identify avian influenza and, under the direction of Defra, the ability to control and eradicate the disease, without posing any risk to public health.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.