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Avian Influenza: Halton

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who paid the catchers of the H5N1 infected turkeys at Halton; and what (a) briefing and (b) instructions they were given prior to undertaking that task. (126244)

The majority of catchers used at Holton were either employees of, or contracted to, Bernard Matthews. In addition to these individuals, a team of catchers directly contracted to my Department, but working under the supervision of Bernard Matthews were deployed to the site on Sunday 4 February. Their briefing and instructions covered health and safety, biosecurity and animal welfare considerations.

The State Veterinary Service (SVS) supervised the catching and culling operation.

The Health Protection Unit was fully engaged with human health risk assessments for SVS staff, farm workers and those involved in the control operation. As a precautionary measure, those involved in disease control were offered the appropriate preventive treatment with antiviral drugs (oseltamivir), seasonal flu vaccine and avian influenza personnel protective equipment, in line with established protocols.