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Bird flu outbreak reported at Suffolk farm – are you at risk of becoming infected?

A bird flu outbreak has been confirmed at the farm at Athelington, after a number of birds were found to have the H5 strain of avian flu, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reported. All 27,000 chickens at the farm will be slaughtered.

Bird flu is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. But can it affect humans?

In rare cases, bird flu can affect humans, but according to Dr Gavin Dabrera, from Public Health England (PHE), the risk to public health is very low.

The strain at the farm has been identified as “los pathogenic avian flu”.

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The Foods Standards Agency said there’s no food safety risk as long as poultry products, including eggs, are thoroughly cooked.

READ MORE: Scarlet fever outbreak: Hundreds of cases reported across England and Wales – the symptoms

Bird flu outbreak A case has been confirmed at a Suffolk farm – are humans at risk? (Image: GETTY)

In recent years there have been four strains of bird flu which have caused concern, including H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 and H5N8.

But no humans have been infected with these strains of flu in the UK.

How is bird flu spread

The NHS advises bird flu is spread by close contact with an infected bird – dead or alive.

This could include touching infected birds, touching dropping or bedding, and killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking.


It adds: “Markets where live birds are sold can also be a source of bird flu. Avoid visiting these markets if you’re travelling to countries that have had an outbreak of bird flu.

“You can’t catch bird flu through eating fully cooked poultry or eggs, even in areas with an outbreak of bird flu.”

Bird flu symptoms

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The seasonal flu vaccine doesn’t protect against bird flu, so it could be worth noting its symptoms.

The health body lists the main symptoms of bird flu as:

  • A very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery
  • Aching muscles
  • headache
  • A cough

Bird flu outbreak: The risk to public health is very low (Image: GETTY)

These symptoms can appear very quickly.

Other early symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Sickness
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Bleeding from the nose and gums
  • Conjunctivitis

The first symptoms usually take three to five days to appear after infection.

To avoid complications it’s important to get treated quickly, using antiviral medicine.

How to prevent bird flu

The NHS recommends washing you hands often with warm water and soap, especially before and after handing food – in particular raw poultry.

You should also use difference utensils for cooked and raw meat, make sure meat is cooked until steaming hot, and avid contact with live birds and poultry.

If you experience any symptoms of bird flu and have visited an area affected by bird flu in the past 10 days you should call a GP or NHS 111.

Your symptoms can be checked over the phone.


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