Since 2005 there have been five incursions into Great Britain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of subtype H5N1 related to the ongoing global epizootic. The first incursion occurred in October 2005 in birds held in quarantine after importation from Taiwan. Two incursions related to wild birds: one involved a single dead whooper swan found in March 2006 in the sea off the east coast of Scotland, and the other involved 10 mute swans and a Canada goose found dead over the period extending from late December 2007 to late February 2008 on or close to a swannery on the south coast of England. The other two outbreaks occurred in commercial poultry in January 2007 and November 2007, both in the county of Suffolk. The first of these poultry outbreaks occurred on a large turkey farm, and there was no further spread. The second outbreak occurred on a free-range farm rearing turkeys, ducks, and geese and spread to birds on a second turkey farm that was culled as a dangerous contact. Viruses isolated from these five outbreaks were confirmed to be Asian H5N1 HPAI viruses; the quarantine outbreak was attributed to a clade 2.3 virus and the other four to clade 2.2 viruses. This article describes the outbreaks, their control, and the possible origins of the responsible viruses.
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Vol. 54 • No. s1