Thousands of chickens culled in the UK to stop spread of bird flu

As many as 15,000 birds have now been slaughtered in Norfolk in the UK in an attempt to stop the spread of a strain of bird flu.

Free-range flocks of chickens were slaughtered earlier after tests showed they had the H7N3 strain and a cull of 35,000 chickens ended on Saturday.

A 1km restriction area has been put in place around the affected sites to contain the virus and trading standards officials are offering guidance to anyone travelling in the area.

Officials have made it clear that the restrictions only apply to the movement of poultry, captive birds and domestic mammals and not to pets.

To date only one poultry worker has contracted the H7 strain of bird flu in the form of conjunctivitis; three others have tested negative for the disease.

Health officials say around 60 people, including poultry workers and members of the State Veterinary Service, had been given anti-viral drugs to prevent them getting ill.

The news comes as a 1,000 square mile quarantine zone to combat an outbreak of bird flu was lifted in Scotland.

Strict controls over the movement of poultry have been in place over the vast tract of eastern Scotland since April 5, when the potentially deadly H5N1 virus was confirmed in a dead swan at Cellardyke on the Fife Coast.

Poultry farmers were told to keep wild birds under cover within the 1,000 sq mile "wild bird risk" area, while a six mile surveillance area was imposed around the seaside village.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says that experts were conducting tests on priority cases south of the border but as yet, no more flocks have been confirmed as having the virus.

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