Workers at UK turkey farm with symptoms of bird flu test negative for H5N1

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 15 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:335
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    Three workers who have been involved in the outbreak of avian influenza at a UK turkey farm have tested negative for the H5N1 strain of the virus after developing symptoms that indicated infection.

    The Health Protection Agency, the special health authority that provides public health advice to the NHS, reported that it had tested three workers from the poultry farm in Suffolk, where turkeys died of H5N1 bird flu. The workers were tested after they developed symptoms that could have indicated the possibility of bird flu and that required further investigation under the protocols used by the agency.

    In a statement this week the agency said, “All three have tested negative for avian flu, and all the patients are now being treated under normal clinical care or have been discharged from hospital where appropriate.”

    Jonathan Van Tam, a flu expert at the agency, said, “The risk of any workers testing positive for avian flu is very low as they have followed all the necessary precautions in terms of protective clothing [and] hygiene measures and have been offered antiviral drugs.”

    A vet who became ill after working on the Suffolk flu outbreak tested negative for H5N1 last week. He was admitted to Nottingham City Hospital with a mild respiratory illness as a precaution but was discharged after testing negative for both avian and seasonal flu.

    Dr Van Tam said that the agency was expecting to see a number of workers with symptoms caused by other respiratory viruses over the coming week, as this was the time of year when these infections increased. “We will assess these cases as they occur and expect to be carrying out more testing through the course of this week.”

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