THE strain of avian flu found on an Oxfordshire farm this week islikely to be related to viruses that have been detected elsewhere inEurope, said Defra.

Chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens has confirmed that the strain of avian flu found on the 20,000-bird laying unit at Shenington, near Banbury, is highly pathogenic H7N7.He said this strain had been found occasionally in domestic poultry and wild birds elsewhere in Europe. Further laboratory tests are in progress.A full epidemiological investigation and tracings of any dangerous contacts are underway and all possible sources of the outbreak will be investigated, Defra said.Protection and Surveillance Zones have now replaced the Temporary Control Zone established around the infected premises on June 3.The restrictions that applied in the Temporary Control Zone remain in place. These include:• The housing or otherwise isolation from contact with wild birds in the Protection Zone.• All bird gatherings in the PZ and SZ are banned.• Other movements of birds and some products are also banned in those Zones.Farmers are urged to be vigilant and report signs of disease to a private vet or local Animal Health.The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health remains low. Following confirmation of the virus subtype as H7N7, the agency has reviewed current procedures based on the best evidence available.It said it remained confident that all necessary steps were being taken to protect those people who may have been exposed to the virus on the premises or involved in disease control activities.

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