Britain confirms bird flu outbreak, 'low' public risk

LONDON (AFP) - British authorities on Monday confirmed an outbreak at a farm of a strain of avian flu that is both highly contagious and potentially deadly for birds, but said the risk to people was very low.

"A case of H7N7 avian flu has now been confirmed in Lancashire" in northwest England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

The strain involved is highly pathogenic and can infect people, but the government's chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, said there was little risk of that happening.

"Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health from this strain is very low. The Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers," he said in a statement.

Birds at the farm near the city of Preston are being culled and a 10-kilometre restriction zone has been imposed, in which the movement of any birds or other animals is prohibited.

Defra stressed that Britain had a "strong track record" of dealing with bird flu, including in an outbreak of the low-severity strain of H7N7 in southern England in February, and an outbreak of a highly pathogenic case of H5N8 in northern England in November.

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