Page last updated at 18:28 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 19:28 UK

Chickens confirmed with bird flu

Restricted zone
A control zone has been set up around the infected premises

Chickens on a farm in Oxfordshire have tested positive for bird flu, chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens says.

All birds on the premises, near Banbury, are being slaughtered.

The birds have been confirmed with the H7 strain of the disease, rather than highly virulent H5N1 strain, regarded as a potential threat to human health.

Tests are being conducted to determine the virulence of the H7 strain and a temporary control zone is being set up around the farm.

Human risk 'low'

Mr 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."

The control zone has a 3km (1.8-mile) inner zone and a 10km (6.2-mile) outer zone, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says.

Within the inner zone, all kept birds must be isolated from contact with wild birds. Bird gatherings and movements are banned within the whole zone, as is the movement of some products.

Map showing location of bird flu outbreak
All the birds on the farm, nearby Banbury, are being slaughtered

The Health Protection Agency said it would be following up those who might have been in contact with the infected birds to offer them guidance and preventative medication.

However, it stressed the risk to human health from H7 avian influenza was low and said it did not transmit easily to humans.

The Food Standards Agency said the outbreak "poses no safety implications for the human food chain".

Dr Judith Hilton, the FSA's head of microbiological safety, said: "Properly cooked poultry and poultry products are safe to eat.

"The science shows that the virus isn't contracted by eating food, but usually by close contact with infected birds."

There have been several outbreaks of bird flu in the UK.

The most recent, in January this year, saw the H5N1 strain confirmed in 11 wild birds near Chesil Beach in Dorset.

In 2006, a farm worker contracted the H7 strain after coming into close contact with infected birds in North Tuddenham, Norfolk.


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