Following the outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza at a turkey farm in Holton, Suffolk, there is hope that the situation is under control. The cull of all 159,000 turkeys on the Bernard Matthews farm is now complete and an extensive clean-up operation is in progress. The disease appears to have been restricted to a single shed, but all 22 sheds are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
Looking at CAB Abstracts, I found reference to an outbreak in East Anglia in 1991. The H5N1 outbreak occurred on a turkey farm in Felthorpe, Norfolk, and was confined to a single house with no spread to adjacent flocks. Hopefully the current outbreak will similarly spread no further.
Secretary of State David Miliband has today commented about avian influenza on his blog. He says the priority is to remain vigilant for any indication of spread of the disease and to continue the investigation into the cause. While there have been many theories about the source (including wild birds and a possible link with the farm in Hungary where H5N1 occurred last month), how the turkeys became infected is a mystery.
Defra is providing regular updates on the bird flu situation.
The paper I made reference to is:
An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in turkeys in Great Britain in 1991 by Alexander, D.J.; Lister, S.A.; Johnson, M.J.; Randall, C.J.; Thomas, P.J. Veterinary Record, 1993, Vol. 132, No. 21, pp. 535-536