Government vets confirmed last night that a strain of bird flu was responsible for the deaths of 1,000 turkeys at a farm in Suffolk.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said scientists had been called to the farm in Lowestoft on Thursday after the outbreak of a mystery illness. A spokeswoman said: "These preliminary results show it is the H5 strain of the virus but further confirmatory tests are in progress to identify the strain more fully and more will be known [today]. The affected premises were put under restriction on Thursday evening and the appropriate contingency plan has been put into effect."

According to the BBC, the alarm was raised by the farmer who noticed "significant mortality" among the birds. They were showing some of the symptoms of avian flu - going off their food and general malaise.

At first, scientists said they would expect the flock to die more quickly if bird flu were the cause. It is the second time in less than 12 months that an East Anglian poultry farm has been hit by bird flu.

More than 30,000 birds were slaughtered after chickens near Dereham, Norfolk, tested positive in April. In March last year, a swan in Fife was found to have the H5N1 version of the virus which has been responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people, mostly in Asia.

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