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Brussels, 3 Febraury 2007

Avian Influenza: H5N1 virus confirmed in UK

Yesterday evening the European Commission was informed by the UK authorities of a suspected outbreak of avian influenza in Suffolk, in the east of England. The outbreak occurred on holding of 159 000 turkeys, and was detected following the death of around

2 500 birds. Samples from the infected establishment were immediately sent to the Community Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, which has this morning swiftly confirmed the disease to be the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. Further tests to characterise the virus are underway, in order to ascertain whether or not it is the Asian strain.

The UK authorities are already applying the measures laid down in the Avian Influenza Directive and Decision 2006/415/EC on avian influenza in domestic poultry (see IP/06/180). This entails the establishment of a protection zone of 3 km radius and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected holding. The area covered by the protection zone and the surveillance zone is classified as a high risk area (area A) which is surrounded by a low risk area (area B) acting as a buffer zone to the disease free parts of the country. Strict movement controls are in place, poultry must be kept indoors, there is a prohibition on gatherings of poultry and other birds and on-farm biosecurity measures will be strengthened.

The Commission will adopt Monday a Decision delimiting the area A and B. Furthermore the disease situation will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on Tuesday 6 February. The Committee will review the disease situation in view of its evolution.

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