Bird flu outbreak is highly pathongenic H7 strain

Defra has confirmed that laying hens on a farm near Banbury, Oxfordshire were infected with the highly pathogenic H7 strain of avain influenza.

A detailed epidemiological investigation to better understand the origin and development of the disease is underway. Further laboratory tests are in progress to identify the N type, and possible relationships with previously identified viruses.

A Temporary Control Zone with a 3km inner zone and a 10km outer zone has been established around the infected premises. All birds must be housed or otherwise isolated from contact with wild birds in the inner zone. Bird gatherings are banned and all other movements of birds and some products are banned in the whole of the Temporary Control Zone. Defra is urgently considering whether any wider measures may be needed.

Chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "I would stress the need for poultry keepers to be extremely vigilant, practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health Office immediately."

In its statement, the Health Protection Agency stressed that H7 avian flu is largely a disease that affects birds and does not transmit easily to humans.

Dr Judith Hilton, Food Standards Agency head of microbiological safety, said: "This case of bird flu on a premises in Banbury, Oxfordshire poses no safety implications for the human food chain. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat. The science shows that the virus isn't contracted by eating food - but usually by close contact with infected birds."

All poultry keepers on the GB Poultry Register are being notified, and the EU Commission has been informed