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Sunday 27th May 2018

Cleared of Bird Flu

8th February 2007

08022007_turkeyfarm1.jpgHealth experts have said that a second worker involved in dealing with the bird flu outbreak on the Suffolk farm where the H5N1 virus was confirmed has tested negative for avian flu.

The testing was carried out by the Agency overnight using tests which now allow a result to be obtained very rapidly, important if the results proved to be positive. A vet who became ill after attending the farm has already tested negative for bird flu and seasonal flu. The HPA said it was the season for respiratory infections and other workers may develop flu-like symptoms.

Although the Environment Secretary David Miliband said the risk to humans remains 'negligible,' the Department of Health wants to ensure it has adequate resources to deal with the ‘very remote possibility’ of a human flu pandemic.  A cull of 159,000 turkeys took place on a Bernard Matthews farm; the outbreak of bird flu on the Lowestoft farm was confirmed by the environment secretary David Miliband who said he was determined to ‘stamp it out’.   Strict controls are in place around the farm to prevent any further contamination across the country; a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone are in place around the site.

Speaking in the House of Commons, David Miliband told MPs that the response to the Suffolk outbreak had been, ‘rapid, well co-ordinated and appropriate’.   He continued by adding, "Our goals in this case are clear. To stamp out the disease, protect public health, to protect animal health and welfare, and to regain disease-free status for the UK." He added that eating properly prepared and cooked poultry and eggs carried no risk to humans at this stage.

Scientists are now trying to locate the source of the disease which has been identified as the "highly pathogenic" Asian strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus. Dr Jonathan Van Tam, a flu expert from the Health Protection Agency said, “It is important to remember that H5N1 avian flu remains largely a disease of birds. The virus does not transmit easily to humans, as evidenced by the 270 or so confirmed infections worldwide to date, versus the millions of people exposed to poultry everyday in SE Asia. Almost all human H5N1 infections so far have been associated with close contact with dead or dying poultry and in all human cases there has been no evidence of efficient human to human transmission."

He added that the local health protection unit in Suffolk is working with Defra, the local NHS and the State Veterinary Service, ensuring that all workers involved are provided with antiviral drugs and given the necessary information and advice. 

The government has already spent £200m on stockpiling antiviral drugs to treat one in four of the population, and in the event of the disease turning into a pandemic it has 2m doses of vaccines to protect medical and emergency staff. Tamiflu, the antiviral drug likely to be used by most governments, can be taken as a preventative treatment although there is no evidence it will stop people being infected. It could relieve flu symptoms and help the body to fight the virus, say doctors. There have been concerns, however, that H5N1 is developing resistance to Tamiflu. It is presently only available in the UK on prescription. The stockpiles of Tamiflu could be a first line of defence for priority groups in the event of a pandemic. 


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D Smith

Friday 9th February 2007 @ 15:25

It should be remembered that when someone who has been in contact with thousands of birds dying from HP H5N1 and has subsequently been tested and found to be negative - IS NOT NECESSARILY NEGATIVE.

Experience to date is that a negative test result is not proof of no infection. The H5N1 bird virus is not suited to humans and does not express itself well (hence the low H2H transmission rates) Consequently many cases which eventually tested positive, or in fact died, tested repeatedly negative. One case tested negative nine times before H5N1 was finally confirmed at autopsy.

Compounding this is the fact that Tamiflu use consistently leads to the generation of false negatives, testing too soon generates false negatives and testing the wrong tissue leads to false negatives. See the Recombinomics site by Dr Niman for background on the generation of false negatives http://www.recombinomics.com/whats_new.html

Finally, do not forget that DEFRA and the Government are spinning disinformation to 'manage the public response'.

"Defra was aware last Monday that a consignment of meat had been taken into the plant but it was not revealed to the public. The environment secretary, David Miliband, made no mention of it when he made a statement to the House of Commons that day. Nor was it revealed by Lord Rooker, the agriculture minister, in the Lords earlier today. Lord Rooker confirmed that there had been no importation of chicks or eggs into Britain, but did not mention the possibility that carcasses had been transported into the plant."

We were told that the dead turkeys were to be incinerated after being transported in sealed tanks, in reality they have been rendered after transport in tarpaulin covered trucks and the final fate of the meat and bone meal (mbm) is still in question.

The HSE will be quite happy for members of the public to misinterpret 'tested negative' to mean 'really negative'. They will not be publicising the fact that it means nothing of the sort.

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Article Information

Title: Cleared of Bird Flu
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 1926
Date Added: 8th Feb 2007


BBC News
BBC News
Worker from Suffolk farm tests negative for avian flu
The Guardian

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