Bird flu strikes Oxfordshire farm

first_imgVets have slaughtered 25,000 chickens after bird flu was discovered at a farm near Banbury. The outbreak occurred just fifteen miles away from the Gatecrasher music festival, prompting health fears amongst the hundreds of students who attended the event two weeks ago. Chickens on Eastwood Farm had been infected with the disease for three weeks, before bird flu was suspected and precautions taken. However, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra),stressed that the risks of H7 to human health are low. The birds have been infected with the H7 strain of Avian influenza, rather than the deadly H5N1 strain. However there have been cases in Britain where farm workers have suffered conjunctivitis and flu-like symptoms from it. A 3km protection zone around the farm and a 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around Eastwood Farm. The laboratory results on some of the dead chickens show that the H7 strain of bird flu is still highly contagious. Further tests will now take place to try to establish links with previously identified Avian flu viruses and where the disease could have originated. It is suspected that the disease has been spread by wild birds. The movement of birds and bird products have been banned in the whole of the temporary zone and all kept birds must be isolated from contact with wild birds. Restrictions have also been imposed on people who have contact with wild birds. Students who attended Gatecrasher two weeks ago expressed concern that their may be health risks. One Keble undergraduate, who attended the festival, expressed his concern, saying, “I’m quite worried. The chicken farm was really close by as we could all smell it when we were at the festival.” A St Anne’s third year who also went to Gatecrasher said, “I’m concerned about the whole thing, given that a bird pooed on me and that bird flu is such a big issue in the media at the moment. I haven’t felt ill or anything since the festival on Sunday, so hopefully I’ll be fine.” However, others were less worried. Jocelyn Corner, a second year student at Pembroke, explained that she was not greatly concerned by the news. She said, “The fact that the disease can only be spread by having close contact with infected chickens means that I don’t feel at any particular risk. “It’s certainly not going to stop me from eating chicken. If the more deadly H5N1 strain had been discovered then I’d be much more worried that an outbreak had been found so close to Oxford. I do feel bad for the farmer though, and the chickens.” In a statement a University Press Officer said, “The University has a flu pandemic planning committee which exists to plan for any type of pandemic flu, including bird flu. If there were an outbreak various procedures would kick in depending on central government assessment of the threat level (which right now remains at low).” The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health remains low. The Food Standards Agency has also confirmed that the disease cannot be contracted by eating food, but can be contracted by close contact with infected birds. Defra is considering whether any wider measures are needed. Avian influenza – Avian influenza (bird flu) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds. – H7 is the non-deadly strain of bird flu: the risk it poses to humans remains low. – H7 infection in humans is rare, but can occur among persons who have direct contact with infected birds. – Advice from the Food Standards Agency remains that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat. – The H7 virus is destroyed by cooking thoroughly. By contrast, H5N1 is a much more virulent and deadly form of bird flu.last_img read more