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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bird Flu Lands in Britain

LONDON -- Health officials on Sunday announced new restrictions on movement near a commercial farm where the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu was found in turkeys Saturday, while authorities culled thousands of birds to contain the outbreak.

People involved in the culling and all those who could have come into contact with affected birds were being given an antiviral drug as a precaution, authorities said.

About 2,500 turkeys died of the virus on the farm owned by Bernard Matthews, Europe's largest turkey producer. It is the first time the H5N1 strain has been found on a British farm.

The virus was identified as the highly pathogenic Asian strain, similar to that found in Hungary in January, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or DEFRA. The Hungarian outbreak was the first known case of the strain within the European Union since August 2006 and led authorities in that country to kill thousands of geese.

Bird flu has killed or prompted the culling of millions of birds around the globe since late 2003, when it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks. It has killed at least 164 people worldwide, but remains difficult for humans to catch.

Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of Britain's Health Protection, told the BBC that the public had little to fear as the virus "doesn't pass easily from bird to human."

She said people who had been affected by the disease had lived and worked in very close proximity to birds.

Overnight, government veterinarians were gassing the remaining 159,000 turkeys on the farm in Suffolk county, about 210 kilometers northeast of London, to contain the outbreak.

Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer Fred Landeg said the virus was found in only one of the farm's 22 turkey sheds.

After consulting with ornithologists, DEFRA announced new measures to control the movement of birds in the areas surrounding the farm. A 2,090-square-kilometer restriction zone was set up in which all commercial birds must be isolated from wild birds and all movement of poultry must be licensed.