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Hungary admits link with UK bird flu outbreak

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  • Hungary admits link with UK bird flu outbreak

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=986 summary="" border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=19></TD><TD width=618>Hungary admits link with UK bird flu outbreak

    Richard Gray in Budapest, Sunday Telegraph
    Last Updated: 11:37pm BST 12/05/2007

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    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Hungary has admitted for the first time that it may have been the source of the deadly flu virus that caused an outbreak at a British turkey farm.
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=307 align=right border=0 hspace="0"><TBODY><TR><TD width=8 rowSpan=2></TD><TD width=299><CENTER> </CENTER></TD></TR><TR><TD class=caption><CENTER> </CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Bognar Lajos, Hungary's deputy chief veterinary officer, conceded that the H5N1 virus could have gone undetected in a Hungarian turkey flock which was sent to slaughter.
    He said the meat might then have been exported by Bernard Matthews, the British poultry company, to its plant in Holton, Suffolk, before the virus infected birds there.
    Despite the admission, Mr Lajos insisted that ultimately the blame for the British outbreak must lie with Bernard Matthews, which was criticised for shortfalls in its biosecurity in the wake of the scare.
    Mr Lajos said: "It is possible that the virus was still in an incubation period in a flock and no symptoms would have been seen. Such a flock could have been sent to slaughter and the meat transported to the UK. The problem was not with Hungary though. The problem was Bernard Matthews and its biosecurity."

    Until now, officials in the east European country have flatly denied that the virus could have come from Hungary.
    Two goose farms in the Csongrad region of the country, south-east of the capital Budapest, were hit by the virus in January, weeks before the same strain infected a flock of Bernard Matthews turkeys.
    A report into the British outbreak by the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) concluded that the most plausible explanation was that the infection had been introduced to Britain through imported turkey meat from Hungary.
    Britain's poultry industry is still paying the price of the bird flu outbreak. Research by the analysts Nielsen shows turkey sales have fallen by 29 per cent over the past three months while sales of frozen turkeys are down 33 per cent on last year.
    The industry is thought to have lost sales worth more than ?9.4 billion. Sales at Bernard Matthews have also dropped dramatically, although the company insists the decline has been halted.
    Last month, the multi-million pound company was paid ?600,000 in compensation by the Government for the 160,000 birds it had to cull as a result of the outbreak.
    In Hungary, however, the goose farmers affected by bird flu shortly before the British outbreak say they are still waiting for compensation.
    In a dingy shed on the Kolos Agro farm in Szentes-Lapisto, Csongrad, Garai Tibor, a farmer, described how just a few months ago it had been full of geese. Now, the only evidence of the 3,335 birds that once inhabited three 55-yard huts is a small patch of feathers on the ground.
    "The outbreak has given us a bad name, but I am not angry about that," he said. "It was bad luck that the virus came to our farm.
    "I am angry that we have been blamed for the English outbreak though when they seem to have brought the infection upon themselves.
    "We did nothing wrong, while they had all these problems. How is it they have received all this money?"
    Mr Tibor has been forced to lay off three workers from the local village and has lost more than 74 million Hungarian forints (?200,000).
    Under European legislation, member states can have half of any compensation given to farmers hit by bird flu outbreaks paid by the European Commission.
    A spokesman at the EC said it had received no application for compensation for either of the farms hit by the outbreak.
    However, Mr Lajos insisted that between them, the two farms had received about 100 million forints from his government.
    Szekely Zsolt, who owns the other farm in nearby Derekegyhaz, refused to comment.
    A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said: "None of the investigations to date has been conclusive about the causes of the outbreak."

  • #2
    Re: Hungary admits link with UK bird flu outbreak

    hah, finally !

    They still don't comment on the high identity of the sequences.
    Maybe it's unfortunate in Hungary to address that issue at all.

    This could be a tradition how to deal with western media
    from cold war times ?!?
    Not that they actively support that tradition, in contrary.

    Just, what you learn as child,student ... subconciously
    I'm interested in expert panflu damage estimates
    my current links: ILI-charts: