The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed H5N1 avian influenza on a poultry farm near Diss, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. The results were laboratory confirmed by experts at Animal Health.
The affected premises were put under restriction on Monday (12th November) and, as required under EU legislation, Defra has commenced a cull of the 6,500 remaining poultry on the infected premises and imposed a 3km protection zone and a 10km outer surveillance zone around the farm area. This is to prevent further spread to neighbouring flocks and or farms.
The risk of workers being infected by the virus is very low but any possibility of exposure to the virus is taken very seriously.
The local Health Protection Unit is working closely with Defra and Animal Health to ensure that all the necessary actions are taken to protect those people who have been in close contact with the infected poultry. This includes offering antiviral drugs where appropriate.
As part of the routine management of this incident, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has identified and contacted 23 people who, as a precautionary measure, have been offered preventative treatment with antiviral medication.
Professor Nigel Lightfoot, Head of Influenza Programmes at the HPA, said: “Over the next two weeks, the Agency will be monitoring the health of those who have been offered antiviral drugs and seasonal flu vaccine.
“We would expect to see a number of workers with symptoms caused by other respiratory viruses over the coming week, as this is the time of year when we see an increase in these infections. We will assess these cases as they occur.”