The BBC reports this morning that about 35,000 chickens at a poultry farm in Norfolk, England, are to be culled after dead birds tested positive for a strain of bird flu. What makes this interesting is that the newsdesk subbies are now going to have cope with another strain of avian influenza – H7, as opposed to H5N1. H7N7 was, of course, responsible for an outbreak in The Netherlands where 30 million birds had to be slaughtered, but this is the first time it has reached British shores. H7 is not as great a risk to human health as H5N1, although H7N7 infected 80 people in The Netherlands. Bacteriologist Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University, said that while the H7 strain was “nasty for the birds”, it was “not a public health threat to humans”, the BBC reports. “It’s basically a virus that kills chickens and has been around for many, many years.
So, one might ask, why did the BBC get a quote from a professor of bacteriology, rather than virology?