Farmer recalls 2006 bird flu outbreak

The shock of the Suffolk outbreak of bird flu brought back harrowing memories for a Norfolk farming family whose world was turned upside down by the virus last year.

The shock of the Suffolk outbreak of bird flu brought back harrowing memories for a Norfolk farming family whose world was turned upside down by the virus last year.

Simon and Geoffrey Dann saw their entire flock of 16,000 chickens on their farms in North Tuddenham gassed following an infection of the far less potent H7N3 strain of the disease in March. The farming family lost about £50,000 and found themselves shunned by former friends in the normally close-knit community.

Simon Dann, right, said yesterday that the outbreak of the H5N1 strain at the Bernard Matthews farm in Holton had been a painful reminder of their own devastating experience - something they are still recovering from financially.

He said: "It brought the memories flooding back, there is no doubt about that. I could not help thinking - please do not let this strike twice.

"I thought of writing a note to Bernard and saying I know what you are going through. The employees will be thinking 'will I have a job tomorrow' and everyone is just wondering what the long-term future will be."

He said he thought the government had learnt from its experience dealing with last year's outbreak in Norfolk.

Most Read

"I think the authorities have made sure they have done a belt and braces job. They seem a little bit more tight and a little bit more professional. After a trial run with us I think they learnt a lot.

"The biggest risk now comes from people who keep under 50 birds and are not on the poultry register.

"To date they do not know how the infection got into Banham Poultry or our site and I do not think they will ever get to the bottom of how it got into the Holton site."

He said they had had no advice from Defra following the Holton outbreak but feared there could be a consumer backlash against poultry products.