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RE: Bird Flu Thread - Coffee Break - 02-01-2007 10:04 AM

WHO praises Thailand for cooperation in fight against bird flu  

BANGKOK, Feb 1 (TNA) - The visiting new chief of the World Health Organisation has warned that avian influenza remains a serious public health issue for Southeast Asia and it would take years to bring it under control.


Dr. Margaret Chan, new WHO director-general, said she appreciated Thailand's responses to identified human cases of H5N1 avian influenza and praised the Thai government for the improvements it has made, with the help of 800,000 local volunteers, to its monitoring of the disease, Thai government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said.

Dr. Chan made a courtesy call and met with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont at Government House Wednesday.

"The WHO director general has praised Southeast and Northeast Asian countries for the work they have done since the return of the H5N1 in 2003. But she warned that it would take years to bring the disease under control," he said.

According to the spokesman, the prime minister stressed Thailand's commitment to the fight against the disease in poultry and in humans.

At the Asean summit meeting in the Philippines late last year, Asean leaders renewed their pledge to tackle the problem as the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, which kills people as well as poultry, had broken out again across a broad sweep of eastern Asia following a lull in outbreaks.

Thai authorities say that a revised policy to combat bird flu is currently in the works. The plan is expected to cover 3 to 5 years and will include poultry vaccinations as an added measure of prevention.

In January Thailand successively announced two outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu virus found among dead poultry in two provinces. No human cases have been confirmed this year.

Of the 25 human cases of bird flu infection confirmed to date in Thailand, 17 have been fatal.

TNA


RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 02-03-2007 02:54 PM

Outbreak of bird flu is confirmed on Suffolk farm
Published: 03 February 2007

Government vets confirmed last night that a strain of bird flu was responsible for the deaths of 1,000 turkeys at a farm in Suffolk. Icon_sad

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said scientists had been called to the farm in Lowestoft on Thursday after the outbreak of a mystery illness. A spokeswoman said: "These preliminary results show it is the H5 strain of the virus but further confirmatory tests are in progress to identify the strain more fully and more will be known [today]. The affected premises were put under restriction on Thursday evening and the appropriate contingency plan has been put into effect."

According to the BBC, the alarm was raised by the farmer who noticed "significant mortality" among the birds. They were showing some of the symptoms of avian flu - going off their food and general malaise.

At first, scientists said they would expect the flock to die more quickly if bird flu were the cause. It is the second time in less than 12 months that an East Anglian poultry farm has been hit by bird flu.

More than 30,000 birds were slaughtered after chickens near Dereham, Norfolk, tested positive in April. In March last year, a swan in Fife was found to have the H5N1 version of the virus which has been responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people, mostly in Asia.

The Independent


RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 02-11-2007 11:55 AM

Farmers call for imported poultry ban

FARMERS called for a ban on raw imported poultry meat from countries infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus today as investigations continued into how it came to Britain.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) called for tighter controls on meat imports until the source of the outbreak at the Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Holton, Suffolk, is established.

Experts are investigating claims that the virus could have travelled to the UK in contaminated meat which arrived from Hungary days before bird flu was discovered at the plant.
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A Hungarian slaughterhouse which has links with Bernard Matthews and is 60 miles from the bird flu outbreak there is now being investigated.

Hungary's deputy chief vet Dr Bognar Lajos told BBC's Today programme: "It is confirmed there is a trade between this slaughterhouse and Bernard Matthews.

"He buys products from that slaughterhouse, so we are investigating the situation - documentation, registration - and we are tracing back the live animals' origin."

British experts have confirmed that the strains of the virus in both countries are identical, although Dr Lajos said it was still not definite that his country was the source.

The possibility that it has travelled from Hungary, however, indicates that measures to prevent the disease have broken down, according to NFU chairman Charles Bourns.

He said: "The easiest way out of this situation would be to stop the importation of raw poultry meat from any country with H5N1 until the Government has worked out how it got here.

"I am not keen to have any imported meats but if we are to have them, let's have them in a form which is 110% safe."

He added: "I am not trying to scaremonger, I am just saying that logically we must stop this disease from spreading."

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne joined the calls for caution, warning that it would be a public health disaster if the avian flu virus mutated and became contagious to humans.

He said: "The first concern has to be human health. That's why the FSA must ensure that any trace of contaminated poultry meat is removed from supermarket shelves before there is any possibility of it entering the human food chain.

"A mutation of the avian flu virus, making it contagious between humans, would be a public health disaster."

The Government's Chief Scientist, Professor Sir David King, has warned that the H5N1 virus could be picked up by other birds or animals if they come into contact with infected meat.

Supermarkets are facing the possibility of a recall of turkey products after Prof King warned it might be necessary to stop the spread of the disease.

The FSA is investigating whether infected products have entered the human food chain and has said a recall is possible if evidence of contamination is found.

But preventing the disease spreading rather than human health worries would be the driving factor behind a recall because infected meat does not pose a threat to humans as long as it is cooked properly.

Paul Hunter, professor of health production at the University of East Anglia, said: "The reason the FSA will not rule out a recall has nothing to do with the risk to human health.

"The major reason for recalling products would be to prevent the virus re-entering the bird population. If a contaminated product was discarded and eaten by birds there is the potential for this to cause a further outbreak."

Despite these assurances, some consumers are still avoiding turkey products, with supermarket giant Sainbury's recording a 10% drop in sales across its poultry line.

Tesco has noted a small fall in sales of poultry and Bernard Matthews products since the outbreak was discovered, but sales at Asda are currently totally unaffected, a spokeswoman said.

Bernard Matthews has insisted that its food is completely safe and there is no risk of catching flu, but researchers say the food brand has already been badly damaged by the outbreak.

YouGov's BrandIndex, which monitors consumer attitudes to 1,100 brands every day, revealed that the company is now the second least liked brand in Britain, second only to McDonald's.

Sundip Chahal, from the research agency, said: "The brand with the least brand health right now across all the brands we monitor is McDonald's and the next lowest right now is Bernard Matthews.

"It has plummeted in the last three days. It seemed like it might bottom out but with the further events this weekend I wouldn't be surprised if it fell further.

"The only other time we have seen a drop like this is when Cadbury had the salmonella scare last year and British Gas announced their second round of price rises."

Manchester Evening News


RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 02-17-2007 04:32 PM

String of flaws found at Bernard Matthews plant

The Bernard Matthews plant infected with bird flu had serious biosecurity shortfalls, a government investigation has found: holes in the turkey sheds where birds, rats and mice could get in and spread the H5N1 disease, leaking roofs, and uncovered bins where seagulls were seen carrying off meat waste.

It also emerged yesterday that the government is to look at whether failings at the site constituted a breach of animal by-product regulations, an offence which carries a maximum of two years in prison.

The Meat Hygiene Service, the Health Protection Agency, and the Food Standards Agency found a string of problems at the plant, any one of which might have led to the infection being spread:

· polythene bags full of residue of liquid waste could have blown around the site;

· plastic-covered bales of wood shavings for bedding were kept outside;

· water was leaking from roofs into sheds, meaning infection could spread;

· pest control workers noted many gulls around, attracted to uncovered bins full of turkey-breast trimmings;

· gulls were taking turkey waste to roosts on top of the turkey-house 500m away;

· holes in the turkey houses could have allowed in birds or rodents.

It also emerged yesterday that the company was told twice in January about gulls getting into uncovered waste bins, and birds roosting on top of the plant's live turkey sheds. Meat inspectors also said they had several times given verbal advice to the Bernard Matthews' plant on "deficiencies and non-compliance".

The report said: "There are a number of ways that infection could have entered the shed with the clinically affected birds. They may have become infected because of a reduction of biosecurity measures."

It ruled out movement of staff between sheds as a possible cause of the spread.

Fred Landeg, the deputy chief vet, said poultry imported from Hungary remained the "most plausible" cause of the outbreak on February 3, but the two-week official investigation into how the disease arrived in Suffolk and was then spread to the turkey sheds found no evidence of infected meat going to Suffolk from Hungary.

A parallel investigation by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) found there had been very little risk to processing workers at Holton who, it was decided, did not need to be offered precautionary drugs.

More than 300 cullers and others in the live turkey sheds were offered Tamiflu.

The decision not to offer Tamiflu to the many hundreds in the processing plant, said the HPA, was based on: no reported human flu cases in Hungary; any virus in meat would decrease during transport; and work at the plant not being high risk.

Last night Bernard Matthews lifted its voluntary ban on meat from Hungary and the Suffolk plant was expected to be back at full capacity in the next few days. Unconfirmed reports, not denied by the company, suggest its sales of turkey have fallen 40%, and not 10% as reported by supermarkets. A spokesman said: "Today's report indicates the authorities have identified ways in which biosecurity can be enhanced and Bernard Matthews will comply with any recommendations.

The shadow minister for agriculture, Jim Paice, said: "The most plausible route of transmission is the importation of poultry products via Hungary, yet apparently no laws have been broken. This report must not be the end of the matter."

"We may never be able to conclusively pinpoint the original source of the virus," said deputy chief vet Fred Landeg.

Guardian.co.uk