News 249 views update:Nov 20, 2007

End of culling at UK bird flu-affected farms

An announcement by the UK government confirmed yesterday that the culling of poultry has ended on the four farms suspected of being infected with avian influenza.

Following a suspected outbreak a week ago at a farm near the Norfolk and Suffolk border of H5N1 bird flu, 28,000 birds were slaughtered. This variant of the disease is quite serious as it is capable of transmission to humans.

A 3km protection zone and a surveillance zone of 10km was immediately set-up. Laboratory tests are still currently being carried out from samples from the farms in the area in question.

The Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has announced that farmers may now have to bear the costs of such disease outbreaks. In a year of foot and mouth disease outbreaks, bluetongue disease and now bird flu, animal infections have cost the UK government around £120m (€167m) so far.

It is rumoured that cuts of up to £270m (€377m) will be introduced at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in order to balance the books following the recent disease outbreaks.

Mr Benn advocated more direct involvement of the farming industry in managing such diseases. He felt that it was "not unreasonable asking the farming community to bear more of the costs of dealing with animal diseases".


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