June 4, 2008 / 3:31 PM / 9 years ago

Bird flu case confirmed as H7 strain

LONDON (Reuters) - An outbreak of bird flu at a chicken farm in southern England is a virulent strain, the farm ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said on Tuesday an H7 strain of bird flu had been confirmed at a farm in Oxfordshire, saying further tests were needed to determine if it was highly pathogenic.

All birds at the farm were slaughtered as a precautionary measure.

The strain involved in the outbreak is not the deadly H5N1 strain which has killed more than 230 people since 2003 and resulted in the deaths of millions of birds.

Japan’s farm ministry has temporarily suspended all poultry and poultry meat imports from Britain as a preventive measure following the outbreak.

The food safety watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, said on Wednesday properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, remained safe to eat.

“The science shows the virus isn’t contracted by eating food - but usually by close contact with infected birds,” said Judith Hilton, FSA’s Head of Microbiological Safety.

Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Christopher Johnson

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