Bird flu on British farm may be linked to Dutch, German cases

Health officials moved to combat outbreaks of bird flu at poultry farms in Britain and the Netherlands, culling thousands of chickens and ducks to avert the spread of infection.

Bird flu on British farm may be linked to Dutch, German cases

World Bulletin/News Desk

Bird flu found on a duck farm in northern England might be linked to a highly contagious strain of the disease found this weekend at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands, as well as a case early this month in Germany.

The head of the World Animal Health Organisation told Reuters on Monday that the outbreaks could be linked as the virus is most often transmitted through wild birds.

British authorities said the strain was serious for poultry but only a minimal danger to humans and was not the deadly H5N1. 

A 10-kilometre (6-mile) restriction zone has been placed around the farm in Yorkshire and all 6,000 ducks on the site will be killed.

"The public health risk is very low and there is no risk to the food chain," a spokeswoman at Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Britain last saw a case of H5N1 in birds in 2008 and, although there have been reported cases since, none have been the dangerous H5 or H7 strains, according to Britain's National Health Service.

Wendy Barclay, a professor specialising in flu virology at Imperial College in London, noted that while bird flu viruses can be very dangerous for poultry, previous outbreaks of H5 strains in Britain have never infected people.

On Sunday, the Dutch authorities blocked the transportation of eggs and poultry across the country after a strain of the flu was detected at a farm in Hekendorp, south of Amsterdam. The strain was said to be lethal for poultry and potentially transmissible to humans.

The authorities ordered the slaughter of 150,000 chickens at the farm. News reports identified the strain as H5N8, which has never been detected in humans, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Stockholm, but has been reported in birds in South Korea, China, Japan and, earlier this month, in Germany.

The European Commission is discussing protective measures to contain a "highly contagious" strain of bird flu. The measures will include killing all contaminated animals and the cleaning of their holding areas.

The H5N1 strain has a mortality rate of about 60% in humans, and led to 384 deaths between 2003 and December 2013, according to WHO figures.

Common symptoms for bird flu include a high fever and coughing.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Kasım 2014, 13:51

Muhammed Öylek