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AI outbreak in Oxfordshire: Update



Ref: 178/08
Date: 5 June 2008

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens has today confirmed that the strain of Avian Influenza found on the premises near Banbury in Oxfordshire is highly pathogenic H7N7.  Preliminary analysis also indicates that this H7N7 strain is likely to be related to viruses which have occasionally been detected in domestic poultry and wild birds elsewhere in Europe.  Further laboratory tests are in progress. 

The full epidemiological investigation and tracings of any dangerous contacts are underway and all possible sources of the outbreak will be investigated. 

The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that the risk to public health remains low. Following confirmation of the virus subtype as H7N7, the Agency has reviewed current procedures based on the best evidence available. They remain confident that all necessary steps are being taken to protect those people who may have been exposed to the virus on the premises or involved in disease control activities.

Protection and Surveillance Zones have  replaced the Temporary Control Zone established on 3 June around the premises in Oxfordshire. The restrictions that applied in the Temporary Control Zone remain in place. Further information on the animal health aspects of avian influenza and current restrictions is available on the Defra website  Farmers are urged to be vigilant and report signs of disease to a private vet or local Animal Health.

Information on public health aspects is available at

Notes to editors

  1. All Avian Influenza viruses are categorised according to the ability to cause severe disease (pathogenicity) in avian species as either highly pathogenic viruses or low pathogenic.
  2. Viruses consist of proteins. Avian Influenza viruses are classified using the H and N proteins. There are 16 different H proteins and 9 N proteins and any combination of these is possible. The H5 and H7s are considered to be the most important from the Animal Health perspective .


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Page published: 5 June 2008