Tests on H5N1 bird flu viruses found in Britain and Hungary showed they were genetically almost identical and the most likely transmission route was from poultry to poultry, Britain said yesterday.
The establishment by scientists in Britain of a direct link between the two outbreaks came the same day Hungary said it had found no evidence poultry there could have transmitted the virus to Britain. Britain stressed that while the outbreaks were linked it had not found any evidence of illegal or unsafe movements of poultry products from Hungary to Britain and was still investigating all possible routes of transmission. Britain's deputy chief veterinarian Fred Landeg said the working hypothesis, based on the work of the VLA, was that the virus had most likely been transmitted from poultry to poultry. "I must reiterate that we are not discounting any line of inquiry and this is an ongoing investigation," he said. The EU commission also said that while the tests showed the outbreaks were directly linked, that in itself did not explain how the strain came to Britain. Europe's largest turkey producer, Bernard Matthews, reopened the plant hit by the outbreak earlier this month yesterday after 160,000 turkeys at a nearby farm were destroyed.(Reuters)