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Bird Flu confirmed in North Wales, UK

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The Old Man

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  • Elders (Admins)

A case of bird flu has been confirmed after the death of chickens at a farm in Conwy.

On Thursday, Wales's chief vet confirmed it was a H7N2 strain of bird flu, not the more virulent H5N1 strain of the virus.

The owners of the Conwy farm bought 15 Rhode Island Red chickens two weeks ago but all have since died.

Two people living on the smallholding have shown flu symptoms and are being treated as a precaution.

Health officials are stressing that this is a low pathogenic strain and should not cause serious illness in humans.

Other samples from the farm are being tested and the source of the infection is being investigated.

The Wales contingency plan has been implemented and a 1km restriction zone is now in force around the property.

The small farm is located at Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, near Cerrigydrudion in Conwy.

Samples were first sent for testing on 17 May, before the H7 virus was confirmed.

The 15 new birds were brought onto the farm on 7 May and one bird died on 8 May. By 17 May, 10 of the birds had died.

The vet called in Animal Health, which used to be known as the State Veterinary service, which took samples.

Dr Christianne Glossop, Wales's chief vet, confirmed that the infected birds had died and that the other animals at the site - 30 other birds and two geese - were being slaughtered on Thursday.

"We have no reason to believe it is spreading rapidly," she said.

"While we are taking it very seriously, this is a low pathogenic avian flu," she said.

She said the source of infection was being investigated and urged "all poultry keepers to look out for any unusual signs".

In the exclusion zone, birds and bird products cannot be moved and bird gathering can only take place under licence.

At the moment, Dr Glossop added they were not currently asking bird keepers to bring their birds indoors.

Anti-viral medicine

Routine tests are being carried out on people who work on the farm and anybody else who has been in close contact.

Dr Marion Lyons, consultant in communicable disease control for the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHSW), said: "As a precaution, we are identifying all those who have been in very close contact with the birds in the last seven days so that we can offer them an anti-viral medicine called Tamiflu.

"This can help in reducing symptoms. We are also contacting all those people who have been in close contact with those people living on the smallholding since they fell ill a week ago."

She said the NPHSW is monitoring the situation closely.

North Wales AM Brynle Williams said: "I am appealing to all residents in Corwen and nearby to behave calmly, and to let government officials carry out their duties."

There are various strains of the bird flu virus, with the H5N1 strain posing a risk to human health and other strains including the milder H7 strain.

This is the first confirmed case of bird flu in Wales.

In February, more than 160,000 birds were slaughtered on a Suffolk farm owned by the Bernard Matthews firm after an outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Avian flu was found there on 3 February and 2,600 turkeys died of it - a further 159,000 birds were then culled.

Source: BBC News


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Guest SouthernCelt

A bit frightening, but interesting also from the aspect that virtually nothing has been going on with this disease recently then suddenly it pops up.

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  • Elders (Admins)

Yeah, this is a much less virulent strain apparently. They still haven't said where the farm purchased its 15 infected chickens from which is a bone of contention.

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  • Elders (Admins)

Well, Frank used the last lot of antivirus so we've bulk orderd some Tamiflu off E-bay for all TIWWA Members!


Precautionary action at Ysgol Henllan, Denbighshire

As a precaution, pupils in Years 5 and 6 at Ysgol Henllan, Denbighshire, are being offered tamiflu to protect them from the very slight risk of infection with the H7 flu virus.

This unusual action has been taken because a child in Year 5, linked to the smallholding near Corwen, is believed to have avian flu. The child is responding to treatment at home.

Twelve children and two teachers have been identified as being in prolonged close contact with the child in the classroom on the days when there was a very small risk of the child being infectious. The parents of each child are being contacted by staff at the National Public Health Service for Wales.

Only these children and staff have been offered tamiflu, an antiviral medication which reduces the severity of any impact of the infection.

Dr Brendan Mason, a consultant epidemiologist with the National Public Health Service for Wales, said, “This is an unusual step for us to take because the risk of the infection being passed from the girl to other pupils is so small. However, this particular virus usually only affects birds and is relatively unknown in humans. Its clinical characteristics have not been fully defined.

“It is very rare to see this particular flu virus so we are taking every reasonable precaution to eliminate it from the community.

“There are 58 pupils in the school, but none of the others have been in close contact and do not need any treatment. However, we realise that this incident may cause anxieties for parents of all children in the school. We are contacting all the parents by letter to invite them to meet with Public Health and Education Officials at 5pm on Monday 28 May and also 5pm on Tuesday 29 May.

“From a public health perspective, the school will be safe to reopen as normal after the half term break. The risk of avian flu to the public is very low.”

A special helpline available for general information about avian flu in people is open from 7am to 8pm.

Further information on the outbreak is available on the NPHS website www.nphs.wales.nhs.uk

People with specific concerns about their health should contact their GP as usual.

CONTACT: Chris Lines on 01443 824176

Editor’s notes

1. A updated Q&A information sheet is available to download from the link: Q&A Avian Influenza in North Wales

2. Situation updates are also available from the Welsh Assembly Government website at: https://new.wales.gov.uk/news/presreleasear...469510/?lang=en

3. A map detailing the Avian Influenza Restricted Zone declared in accordance with Article 55 of the Avian Influenza and Influenza of Avian Origin in Mammals (Wales) (No.2) Order 2006 is also given on the Welsh Assembly website at: https://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/environment...ration/?lang=en

4. More information about avian influenza is also available from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website at: https://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable

5. The National Public Health Service for Wales provides the resources, information and advice to enable the Welsh Assembly Government, Health Commission Wales, Local Health Boards, Local Authorities and NHS Trusts to discharge their statutory public health functions. To do this, the NPHS delivers a full range of public health services, seeking to:

· Improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales and reduce inequalities in health;

· Protect against existing, new and emerging diseases and health threats; and

· Contribute to improvement in health and social care services.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

Only one strain of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) can be passed to humans. In the unlikely event of this strain being introduced into this country then the people most at risk are those who work in the poultry industry, or more remotely those wildfowlers etc. who handle wild birds, rather than members of the general public.

Wild Bird Surveillance

If you find die offs involving 10 or more dead birds of the same species or from different species in the same place you should contact the (Helpline on 08459 33 55 77) and choose the Avian Influenza option which will be open from 9am - 5pm, Monday - Friday.

Single dead birds do not require referral or collection.

As the “one off garden bird” is not considered to be a problem people should dispose of those in the usual way. (see Guidance on handling and disposing of dead garden and wild birds below). The responsibility for disposal generally rests with the land owner. The Council do not routinely collect dead animals of any species - please see dead animal collection policy or contact the Customer Service Centre on 01824 706101 for more information.

Guidance on handling and disposing of dead garden and wild birds

The advice given here applies in all circumstances where members of the public may come across a dead bird, regardless of whether there is any avian influenza in the UK.

If the dead bird is a single, small garden, or wild bird then you do not need to call the helpline. You should:

· leave it alone, or

· follow the guidelines below for disposal

Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people and some simple hygiene precautions should minimise the risk of infection. It is hard for people to catch avian influenza from birds and the following simple steps are also effective against avian influenza.

If you have to move a dead bird

    1. Avoid touching the bird with your bare hands
    2. If possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling (if disposable gloves are not available, see 7)
    3. Place the dead bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
    4. Tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag
    5. Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag. Tie the bag and dispose of in the normal household refuse bin.
    6. Hands should then be washed thoroughly with soap and water
    7. If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove. When the dead bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste.
    8. Alternatively, the dead bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
    9. Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead bird should be washed using ordinary washing detergent at the temperature normally used for washing the clothing.
    10. Any contaminated indoor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with normal household cleaner.

    More details on surveillance of wild birds is available on Welsh Assembly Government website.

    Poultry Keepers

    If you keep a commercial flock of over 50 birds, you should have registered your flock by 28th February 2006. Keepers of flocks with less than 50 birds can register if they wish. Contact the registration helpline on: 0800 634 1112 or via the Defra website

    All Bird Keepers

    All bird keepers should stick to the basic biosecurity measures below to avoid any chance of infection from wild birds:-

    · Feed and water your birds indoors

    · Keep your birds away from wild birds as much as possible

    · Keep everything clean - spilled feed, litter and standing water attract wild birds and vermin

    · Make sure your clothes, footwear and hands are clean before and after contact with your birds.

    · Visitors should do the same

    · Be vigilant!

    Separation from wild birds


    Protect Your Birds

    If your birds are sick, contact your vet immediately. Signs to watch out for include breathing problems, loss of weight, and falling egg production.

    You can find further advice on the Welsh Assembly Government website or Defra website

    Some Questions and Answers

    The following information comes from the Defra website.

    1. What is Avian Influenza?

    Avian Influenza is a highly infectious disease affecting many species of birds, including commercial, wild and pet birds. It may affect people and other animals in certain circumstances. It is caused by a Type A influenza virus.

    Al viruses can be classified according to their ability to cause severe disease (pathogenicity) as either highly pathogenic or low pathogenic. Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses-(HPAI) can cause severe disease in susceptible birds and low pathogenic avian influenza viruses-(LPAI) generally cause mild disease or no disease at all. Avian influenza is one of the most important poultry diseases, and serious outbreaks of disease have been reported in many countries. In the UK it was last confirmed in a flock of 8000 turkeys in Norfolk back in January 1992.

    2. Why is there so much concern about current outbreaks?

    There is concern that the virus may change (reassort or mutate) to emerge as a new virus that is easily transmissible between people and capable of causing disease in people, birds and other animals. Influenza A viruses occur worldwide in man and a wide range of mammals.

    The high pathogenic H5N1 AI strain involved in most of the Asian outbreaks during the last 18 months has shown the ability to jump the species barrier occasionally and cause severe disease, with high mortality, in humans. It has not shown the ability to move easily between humans.

    Avian and human influenza viruses can exchange genetic material when a person or other animal susceptible to infection with both viruses is simultaneously infected with both viruses. This could create a completely new subtype of the influenza virus to which few, if any, humans would have immunity and which might be able to spread between humans.

    More information on the risks of this happening and the implications are held on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Protection Agency (HPA) websites.

    3. I have heard bird flu will kill millions of people. Is this the same disease?

    No. Avian influenza (bird flu) is primarily a disease of birds. It is caused by influenza viruses closely related to human influenza viruses. Transmission to humans in close contact with poultry or other birds occurs rarely and only with some strains of avian influenza.

    There is potential for mutation of avian influenza viruses to new forms of virus that can causes severe disease in humans and spread easily from person to person. That possibility is a great concern for public health.

    4. Does it affect humans and if so, how?

    Humans are usually infected only through close contact with live infected birds. The severity of disease in humans varies from mild disease to severe respiratory disease. This depends on the strain of virus and characteristics of the person infected. Human deaths have been reported following severe disease.

    Since December 2003, AI in Vietnam and Thailand, and more recently Cambodia and Indonesia, has resulted in 112 cases in humans (and 57 deaths).

    5. Can people get it from other people?

    There has been a limited number of well documented cases in which there is evidence to suggest person-to-person transmission but to date there is no evidence that the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has adapted to spread easily in humans.

    6. Which groups of people would be at most risk if we had the disease in poultry in the UK?

    People in close contact with infected poultry or infective material from poultry are most at risk. This would include poultry farm workers, veterinarians and others involved in disease control.

    7. Can we vaccinate people against bird flu?

    No. There is currently no vaccine to protect people against AI infection or disease, though one is being developed. There is however good evidence that avian flu viruses respond to antiviral drugs, and in the UK oseltamivir or other appropriate antiviral agent would be used for the treatment of avian flu in people exposed to the virus. Or to protect people, including poultry workers, who might become exposed to the virus during disease control activities. Such people will be supplied with appropriate antiviral drugs, under prescription, as soon as possible and at least within 48 hours of exposure.

    The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) currently advise that routine vaccination of poultry workers and veterinarians with seasonal human flu vaccine is not recommended, but should be used in a confirmed outbreak of avian flu as a protection against the possibility of re-assortment with human flu virus for those people who might be exposed to the virus during disease control activities.

    8. Is it safe to eat poultry or game?

    The Food Standards Agency considers that the outbreak of avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers. This is because the risk of catching the disease in humans is from being in close contact with live poultry that have the disease and not through eating poultry. There have been no reports of people handling poultry meat getting infected. WHO advice is that there is no health risk from well cooked poultry meat or from eggs.

    9. Can I get AI from handling wild birds?

    Avian Influenza is not known to be present in the country. Wildfowlers and those in contact with wild birds should always take appropriate hygiene precautions when handling wild birds.

    10. How would we control it if it came here?

    The Welsh Assembly Government's contingency plan is available from their website.

    As required under EU legislation, disease control would include killing infected birds and dangerous contacts, and the imposition of movement controls around the infected premises. A new AI Directive is currently being negotiated.

    You can find more information on the following sites:-

    · Welsh Assembly Government

    · Animal Health

    · National Public Health Service for Wales

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