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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 16:15 GMT
Village concern over flu outbreak
By Andrew Sinclair
BBC News

Village of Holton
The usual calm of Holton has been shattered by the news
Holton - the centre of the bird flu outbreak - is normally a quiet village. Many of the 700-strong population here are retired.

"It's the most wonderful place to live," says Wendy Mawer, the local district and county councillor.

"We've been fortunate in our quiet backwater but I guess our profile is going to change because of all this."

All day the silence of the village has been regularly interrupted by the drone of media helicopters and aeroplanes.

Residents have been greeting news of the bird flu outbreak with a mixture of concern and bemusement.

"I can't take it on board at the moment," says Jim Watts, as he helps carry out repairs inside St Peter's Church.

I don't think we need to worry about our children or pets, but I wonder what it'll mean for the wildlife
Marilyn Hatcher,
Resident

"I can't imagine what the implications will be for us."

"It's quite shocking really," says Lillian Foreman. "I know a lot of people who work there [at the affected farm]. I hope this doesn't affect their jobs."

"I don't think human beings are at risk," says her friend Marilyn Hatcher. "I don't think we need to worry about our children or pets, but I wonder what it'll mean for the wildlife."

Precautions

The local council has been quick to reassure residents that the risk to public health is negligible.

"I hope people will realise that it's been contained very quickly," says Cllr Mawer.

"We're not in the business of cuddling turkeys in this part of the world so I hope people understand they're not in danger."

There are no other poultry farms in the immediate vicinity but in many gardens people keep chickens and geese. These will now be closely monitored for any signs of the disease spreading.

Some places are already taking precautions. The local farm shop, which has hens grazing at the front, was turning away journalists worried that anyone who had been at the Bernard Matthews farm could contaminate its land.

At other farms, large hay bales were blocking drives, signalling people should stay away.

There is a lot of concern in Holton. Everyone hopes that this is as bad as it gets.




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