Recent reports have indicated that imported day-old
ducklings from the Netherlands are being investigated as a possible source of
the H5N1 avian influenza virus in England.
According to the Times Online, Gressingham Foods received regular supplies of ducklings delivered by a Dutch exporter. Inquiries are being focused on the vehicle and driver, whether there are any links with previous outbreaks and whether there was any opportunity for the disease to be spread through the Gressingham company via vehicles, equipment or staff.
Ducks in Suffolk have shown no symptoms of disease, but some can act as carriers without showing symptoms. Blood samples are being taken to see if they could have transmitted the virus to turkeys.
Imports of speciality poultry meat by Gressingham Foods are also part of the official inquiry. This meat is frequently processed or packed at the company's plant less than 750 yards from Redgrave Park Farm, near Diss, which is at the centre of the alert.
An audit trail is also being conducted to see whether any imported meat came from European farms near recent outbreaks of bird flu.
A cull of 5,000 turkeys, 1,200 ducks and 500 geese is still under way at Redgrave Park Farm and a further 22,000 turkeys on four other farms in the area (Stone House Farm, Bridge Farm, Grove Farm and Hill Meadow) are to be slaughtered as â€œdangerous contactsâ€.
No disease has been identified in these birds but there is concern about possible spread of the virus by five poultry workers who operated between these five premises, all run by Gressingham.
So far, Japan and Barbados have banned poultry imports from the UK.
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