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'Low risk' bird flu identified at British farm

Update: February, 03/2015 - 10:00

LONDON — Tests have confirmed an outbreak of avian flu in chickens at a farm in southern England but officials described it as a "low severity" strain of the disease.

Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said there was no link with a separate outbreak of bird flu detected at a duck breeding farm in November.

The chickens at the farm in Hampshire are to be culled, and there is a one-kilometre ban on moving poultry around the farm.

"The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health is very low," Defra said in a statement on Monday.

Tests found the outbreak was the H7 form of avian flu, described as less severe form of the H5N8 strain found at the duck farm. The H5N8 virus has previously hit Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Canada and the United States.

"This is a low severity form of the virus and we are taking action to ensure that the disease does not spread or develop into a more severe form," said Britain's Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens.

"We are investigating the possible sources of the outbreak." Bird flu can be fatal for birds, and also poses a health threat to humans, who can become ill after handling infected poultry. — AFP

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