BRUSSELS Britain may now relax the protection zones it set up this month to contain an outbreak of bird flu at a chicken farm since the measures seemed to have been successful, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
The agriculture ministry classified the strain as a virulent H7N7 form of the disease and said it was thought to be related to viruses that had occasionally appeared in domestic poultry and wild birds elsewhere in Europe.
In a statement issued after a meeting of national EU animal health experts, the Commission said Britain's actions had stopped further spread of the disease so that an EU decision on protection and surveillance zones was no longer needed.
"These measures have lead to an effective containment of the outbreak so that it has been decided to let (the decision) elapse on June 28, 2008," the Commission said.
The outbreak was detected in early June in laying hens kept free range in Oxfordshire. All the birds at the farm were slaughtered as a precautionary measure.
(Reporting by Jeremy Smith; editing by Christopher Johnson)