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Email from Alan Beat of Smallholders org received November 30 2007
Date: 29 November 2007
First Suffolk avian influenza epidemiology report published
Defra has today published the initial epidemiology report into the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in Suffolk.
The report concludes that, at the time of writing, the outbreak is confined to the index case which is also the first case and a secondary case as a result of transmission by vehicles, people or other things on the sites.
It has not been possible, at this stage, to categorically identify the source of the outbreak. This initial report states that no evidence has so far been found to indicate introduction via infected poultry or poultry products or vehicles/people transporting them, from countries which have undisclosed infection in their domestic turkey, geese and duck population.
Wild birds cannot be ruled out as a source of infection. The report states that, to date, there is no evidence of H5N1 infection in the local wild bird population or in GB as a whole, but the continued surveillance may help clarify the infection status of the wild bird population.
Further surveillance, testing and epidemiological work on this outbreak is ongoing.
Notes to editors
1. The report can be viewed at www.defra.gov.uk/avianflu
Fred Landeg stated on the national radio news bulletin that a close genetic match of the virus had been made with wild birds that died during the summer of 2007 in the Czech republic, while no link to any commercial movements had been found. He chose his words carefully to imply that wild birds "could not be ruled out" as the source of this outbreak.
So I read the preliminary epidemiological report.
This states: "The current isolate has the closest genetic identity to an isolate from wild birds in the Czech Republic detected in mid-2007" and criticises the siting of this free-range turkey unit in close proximity to an ornamental lake frequented by wildfowl with the associated risks of disease transmission.
All these statements are a gross distortion of the facts. The Czech outbreak started on a commercial turkey farm on 21st June holding 1800 birds. On 10th July, a single infected dead wild mute swan was found some distance away. Investigations concluded that disease had been introduced by commercial movements, and that "A more likely explanation of the events observed is that the disease has spilled over from the turkey farms in the Czech Republic resulting in wild bird infections" - from the official FAO report "Avian flu in Europe 2007" at http://www.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/231765/EW_Europe_aug07_ai.pdf
Once again, DEFRA are deliberately misleading the public into believing that wild birds are to blame, whilst disguising the fact that international trade in polutry and their products is almost certainly the root cause.