Tests undertaken by DEFRA on two Bernard Matthews farms have shown a positive result for an avian influenza virus.

The tests for avian influenza are said to have taken place at two of the company’s small breeder farms – near Yaxham in Norfolk and Ubbeston in Suffolk – following an unusual drop in egg production levels. However, DEFRA has confirmed that the strain present is neither of the highly pathogenic H5 or H7 types.

Although the two farms will remain under movement restrictions until DEFRA have completed its tests, Bernard Matthews Farms other operations continue to run as normal.

A DEFRA spokesperson told Vetsonline : “A routine veterinary investigation is ongoing at poultry premises into the possible presence of a notifiable avian disease. Laboratory tests are ongoing and there is no conclusion yet.”

Bernard Matthews Farms confirmed that it had sought guidance from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) as a precautionary measure and out of a duty of care for its employees.

In an official statement, the company claimed that the HPA had advised that “this type of avian influenza poses very low risk to human health and do not recommend providing Tamiflu treatment to our staff.”

It concluded: “Bernard Matthews has in place clear procedures to identify avian influenza and, under the direction of DEFRA, the ability to control and eradicate the disease, without posing any risk to public health.”

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