Form of bird flu spreads in Wales

An outbreak of a mild form of bird flu in Wales continues to spread and authorities have admitted that they cannot rule out the possibility that the disease has spread from person-to-person.

In the latest case, a child at Ysgol Henllan primary school in Denbighshire has been diagnosed with the H7N2 strain of bird flu and 12 children and two teachers who had been in prolonged close contact with the child, have been given anti-viral treatment as a precaution.

The youngster who is said to be responding to treatment at home, lives close to the farm in Corwen, north Wales, where the H7N2 strain was first discovered.

According to the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) the other 58 pupils at the school have a "very slight" risk of infection.

After 15 Island Red chickens at the farm died another 30 chickens were slaughtered and chickens at another farm in the Llyn Peninsula in northwest Wales are also being tested, with restrictions imposed on the movement of people and animals from the property.

The chickens were bought at Chelford Market at Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, some 70 miles (112 km) away, on 7 May; the farm owners have tested negative for the virus.

To date the NPHS says four people have tested positive for bird flu and 12 have flu-like symptoms, but the number of people who may have had contact with the disease has now risen to 142.

Of that number, 47 came into contact "in the household setting," 14 in the school and 81 in "the workplace setting".

The NPHS says the suspected victims at the school have been given Tamiflu as a precaution and while this is unusual as the risk of the infection being passed from the child to other pupils is so small, this particular virus usually only affects birds and is relatively unknown in humans, and they are taking no chances.

Officials stress that the disease currently circulating is the H7N2 strain of bird flu, and not the more virulent H5N1 strain.

A second possible outbreak at a farm 35 miles (56 km) on the outskirts of Efailnewydd, near Pwllheli, has also been linked to the market.

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