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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Bird flu case confirmed at farm
The farm in Conwy
A 1km restriction zone is now in force around the farm
A case of bird flu has been confirmed after the death of chickens at a farm in Conwy.

On Thursday, Wales's chief vet confirmed it was a H7N2 strain of bird flu, not the more virulent H5N1 strain of the virus.

The owners of the Conwy farm bought 15 Rhode Island Red chickens two weeks ago but all have since died.

Two people living on the smallholding have shown flu symptoms and are being treated as a precaution.

Health officials are stressing that this is a low pathogenic strain and should not cause serious illness in humans.

Other samples from the farm are being tested and the source of the infection is being investigated.

The Wales contingency plan has been implemented and a 1km restriction zone is now in force around the property.

Dr Christianne Glossop said the infected birds had died
While we are taking it very seriously, this is a low pathogenic avian flu
Dr Christianne Glossop, Wales's chief vet

The small farm is located at Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, near Cerrigydrudion in Conwy.

Samples were first sent for testing on 17 May, before the H7 virus was confirmed.

The 15 new birds were brought onto the farm on 7 May and one bird died on 8 May. By 17 May, 10 of the birds had died.

The vet called in Animal Health, which used to be known as the State Veterinary service, which took samples.

Dr Christianne Glossop, Wales's chief vet, confirmed that the infected birds had died and that the other animals at the site - 30 other birds and two geese - were being slaughtered on Thursday.

Map
The Welsh Assembly Government is investigating the case

"We have no reason to believe it is spreading rapidly," she said.

"While we are taking it very seriously, this is a low pathogenic avian flu," she said.

She said the source of infection was being investigated and urged "all poultry keepers to look out for any unusual signs".

In the exclusion zone, birds and bird products cannot be moved and bird gathering can only take place under licence.

At the moment, Dr Glossop added they were not currently asking bird keepers to bring their birds indoors.

Anti-viral medicine

Routine tests are being carried out on people who work on the farm and anybody else who has been in close contact.

Dr Marion Lyons, consultant in communicable disease control for the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHSW), said: "As a precaution, we are identifying all those who have been in very close contact with the birds in the last seven days so that we can offer them an anti-viral medicine called Tamiflu.

"This can help in reducing symptoms. We are also contacting all those people who have been in close contact with those people living on the smallholding since they fell ill a week ago."

She said the NPHSW is monitoring the situation closely.

North Wales AM Brynle Williams said: "I am appealing to all residents in Corwen and nearby to behave calmly, and to let government officials carry out their duties."

There are various strains of the bird flu virus, with the H5N1 strain posing a risk to human health and other strains including the milder H7 strain.

This is the first confirmed case of bird flu in Wales.

In February, more than 160,000 birds were slaughtered on a Suffolk farm owned by the Bernard Matthews firm after an outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Avian flu was found there on 3 February and 2,600 turkeys died of it - a further 159,000 birds were then culled.




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