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scientists react to news of H5N1 avian flu

The virus was discovered in turkeys on a farm in Diss, Norfolk.

Nick Blayney, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

“The news that AI has been confirmed in turkeys on a premises near Diss while clearly of concern, does at least underline the vital importance of surveillance. While we await the outcome of further tests designed to identify the strain of H5 virus we would urge, particuarly since this is the first case of AI in the UK since last June, the need for vigilance. It is important, not least for domestic flock owners in the vicinity, that they protect their birds by following basic biosecurity precautions.”

Professor Ian Jones, Director of Research, School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading, said:

“Another outbreak was to be expected at some time but the source will be interesting and may be suggested when the sequence is confirmed. It is a bit early for migratory birds but this is an option assuming the turkeys were outside. Obviously regrettable ahead of Christmas but no reason it should not be contained at this stage.”

Dr Jim Robertson, NIBSC, said:

“It must be very depressing for those involved to be hit by yet another veterinary infectious disease outbreak; however, the UK authorities must now have good experience in tackling this situation and use that experience for the effective containment of infection, rapid analysis of the virus, analysis of the origin of the infection and ultimately the control and eradication of the outbreak.”

Dr Colin Butter, Institute of Animal Health, said:

“This is concerning but we need to know more about the strain; it is also important to know where it’s come from. At present Defra is doing the right thing and there is no cause for public worry.”

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