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H7N3 Bird Flu Spread in Norwich UK

Recombinomics Commentary

April 30, 2006

Workers have now begun the cull of around 7,500 chickens at Norwich Road Farm in North Tuddenham, while experts arrived to conduct further tests at Mowles Manor Poultry Unit in the same village, which is home to about the same number of birds.

Workers have completed a cull of 35,000 chickens at nearby Witford Lodge Farm at Hockering, where an outbreak of the H7 strain was confirmed.

The above comments indicate H7N3 bird flu has now been detected on three farms.  However, it remains unclear if the proximity of the H7 positive farms is close because the H7N3 has been transmitted from one farm to another, or if the proximity is related to testing.  The UK surveillance program has failed to detect H7 in dead or alive wild birds, but that program has only detected one bird positive for H5N1, strongly suggesting that the surveillance program is fatally flawed.  The failure to isolate any low pathogenicity influenza from any wild birds further supports a failed testing program.

This failure may also extend into testing of human, since only one of four poultry workers with conjunctivitis has tested positive for H7N3.  H7 is easily passed from poultry to humans, although symptoms are mild.  Conjunctivitis is common, and the testing for H7N3 appears to generate more false negatives than true positives.

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