Bird flu found on Norfolk farm

Two Bernard Matthews turkey breeding farms have been hit by strains of avian flu. The strain is not the deadly H5 or H7 types of the disease, but has meant restrictions have been placed on the farms near Dereham in Norfolk and Halesworth in Suffolk.

Two Bernard Matthews turkey breeding farms have been hit by strains of avian flu of low risk to humans.

The strain is not the deadly H5 or H7 types of the disease, but has meant restrictions have been placed on the farms near Dereham in Norfolk and Halesworth in Suffolk.

Vets were called in after staff noticed an unusual drop in egg production levels, a spokesman for the firm said today.

Because of the suspected type of disease Defra had to be notified as a matter of routine.

The Animal Health Agency (HPA) was then brought in for a veterinary investigation late on Tuesday evening into the possible presence of an avian disease.

The farms, at Yaxham, near Dereham, and Ubbeston, near Halesworth, have been put under movement restrictions until tests by Defra have been completed.

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Laboratory results have confirmed the presence of an avian influenza virus, but not the deadly strains H5 or H7.

Further laboratory tests are now being carried out but results are not expected for some days.

A spokesman for Defra said no further precautionary restrictions were considered necessary in the area at present.

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews Farms said: 'As a precautionary measure and out of a duty of care for our employees, we have sought guidance from the 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.'

A Defra spokesman said: '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.'

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