H5N1 bird flu virus confirmed on British turkey farm

Authorities confirmed Saturday the H5N1 bird flu virus has been detected for the first time on a British poultry farm after 2,000 turkeys died.

Scientists in Britain have confirmed that an outbreak of bird flu among turkeys on a farm in eastern England was caused bythe H5N1virus, which can be fatal to humans.

More than 2,000birds on the farm, owned by one of the country's largest turkey producers, have already died from the infection.

Another 159,000birds have been ordered destroyed in an effort to contain the disease, Britain's deputy chief veterinary officer, Fred Landeg,said on Saturday.

Concerns startedlast Tuesdayat a large farmin Suffolk, 200 kilometres northeast of London,where some of the chicks were dying unexpectedly.

By Thursday,the ownershad called in government veterinarians.

Television news footage on Saturday showed piles of slaughtered birds being funnelled into an open tractor-trailer before being taken away for incineration.

Landeg said the H5N1 virus was detected inone of 22 turkey sheds on the farm. Officialsthink an infected wild bird may havemade its way into the shed.

This is the first case of an H5N1 infection on a British commercial farm. The strain has killed 164 people worldwide, mainly in Southeast Asia, since 2003.

However, government officials have toldthe public not to worry about a larger outbreak.

"Thebirds originated from a hatchery,no birds have moved off and no product has moved off [the farm] andthis was a recent introduction of disease," Landeg told reporters.