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Bird flu outbreak ‘no risk to Xmas turkey’

POULTRY farmers have been urged to stay alert for signs of bird flu after an outbreak in Suffolk, but Christmas turkey supplies are unaffected, say industry leaders.

All 27,000 birds at the commercial chicken farm will be culled after a number were found to have the H5 strain of avian flu, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said. It also set up an exclusion zone around the farm to stop the disease spreading.

Public Health England said the danger to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said food safety is not at risk.

Meanwhile the British Poultry Council (BPC) said it was working closely with Defra to monitor and limit the risk of the flu spreading.

BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths said: ‘The health of our birds remains the priority for BPC member businesses. I would like to urge all commercial and non-commercial producers to maintain effective biosecurity on their premises, remain alert for any signs and report suspected disease immediately.’

A BPC spokeswoman added: ‘There is no link whatsoever to the Christmas turkey market. It is unaffected by this. This is a specific farm in Suffolk and the birds are being culled.’

Dr Gavin Dabrera, of Public Health England, said: ‘Avian flu (often called bird flu) is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. As a precaution, we are offering public health advice and antivirals to those who had contact with the affected birds.’