Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Upham farm bird flu: Three people test negative for infection

Bird flu notice
Image caption Tests have confirmed the outbreak as a "low severity" H7 strain of the disease

Three people have tested negative for bird flu following an outbreak at a farm in Hampshire, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

Work is under way to slaughter 10,000 chickens at the farm in Upham.

Tests showed the outbreak as a "low severity" H7 strain of the disease, a much less serious form than the H5N8 strain found at a Yorkshire duck farm, in November.

A PHE spokeswoman said: "The risk to public health is extremely low."

There are no links between the case at Upham and the outbreak last year in Yorkshire, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

It added "robust action" was being taken to prevent any spread of the disease.

A 1km (0.6 mile) poultry movement restriction zone has been imposed around the commercial chicken breeding farm.

'Potential to mutate'

An investigation into the possible sources of the outbreak is under way.

Chief vet, Nigel Gibbens, said it was important to find out whether the avian flu case had come from somewhere else or if it had spread.

However, he said early indications showed there was "no strong likelihood that happened".

"We have to consider the possibility that it came from wild birds in the area," he added.

Image caption The farm will be quarantined for three more weeks and barns will also be disinfected

Paul Townsend, from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), said the cull was necessary in order to "stamp out" the strain which could "potentially mutate to become a more highly pathogenic version, having more severe affects".

Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery has praised the owner of the farm, whom he said had reported the case to the authorities.

The premises will be quarantined for three weeks and barns will also be disinfected.

There is no food safety risk for consumers, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Defra said anyone suspecting avian influenza should immediately contact their nearest APHA office.

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