Chickens at two more British farms are found to have bird flu
The two new infected farms are in the same area, near Dereham, as Whitford Lodge Farm, Hockering, where 35,000 chickens are being slaughtered after the disease was found there last week. A worker caught a mild form of the bird flu.
Their flocks, with 15,300 more birds, will be culled and a one-kilometre "restrictive zone" - limiting movements of poultry, eggs and poultry products - has been imposed around all three. Yesterday, even before last night's announcement, Japan banned poultry imports from Britain.
Dr Debby Reynolds, the Government's chief vet, said that yet more farms may be infected, adding that "we still cannot say that either of these two further farms are the index case" - the one where the infection started. The chickens at the two new farms, which have the same owner, are free range - heightening the chances that they will have caught the virus from wild birds. This will increase criticism of Dr Reynolds and ministers who repeatedly refused to order Britain's poultry indoors to minimise risk of infection.
The flu is a low-pathogenicity form of the H7N3 virus - not the virulent H5N1 - but experts say that it, too, could mutate to become deadly. The Government's defences - erected against H5N1 - should have caught this other strain if they had been effective.
Ministers and officials who boasted that Britain was "probably better prepared than any other nation" through "surveillance" and "early action" are facing the possibility of another foot-and-mouth style fiasco. Dr Reynolds admits the surveillance - testing wild birds for flu - failed to find any carrying the virus affecting the farms, despite the greatest bird flu monitoring exercise ever carried out in Britain.
The Independent on Sunday's investigation has established the testing itself may be to blame. Experts from Ohio State University and the University of Kalmar in Sweden say the Government's programme is turning up far too few cases of normal low pathogenicity flu, which is always in birds, to be credible.
The experts say samples must immediately be put in saline or preservative; the British tests fail to do this. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says its tests are valid, but plans a trial to see if the methods used abroad are better.
Government takes action against the giant goldfish clogging up Canada's lakes and rivers
'Mini ice age' coming in next fifteen years, new model of the sun's cycle shows
African wildcat caught on camera riding on the back of rhino in rare footage
Pope Francis calls for a new system of global government to tackle climate change
Have you heard 'the hum'? Mystery of Earth's low droning noise could now be solved
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 3 A-level results 2015: UK exam board OCR admits it 'estimates' hundreds of pupils' grades after papers 'go missing'
- 4 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks busy Dublin road
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...
£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: ACS qualified Domestic Gas Brea...
£16250 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Product Packager / Stock Assistant is ...