New bird flu outbreaks reported in Europe

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Monday, December 5, 2005


Cases of the H5 type of the avian flu have been discovered in Romanian and Ukrainian fowl. Romania has banned hunting in parts of the country and Ukrainian troops have moved from house to house in villages rounding up chickens, ducks and geese for a mass cull.

The village of Ciocile in the Romanian county of Brăila has been quarantined and thousands of birds have been killed in an attempt to contain the outbreak, the Bucharest Daily News reported. The H5 virus had been detected in nearby villages of Bumbacari and Dudescu in previous tests on Thursday.

Romanian Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said that further tests in a British laboratory will be needed to determine whether the outbreak is the lethal H5N1 strain, which is feared to be able to mutate into a form that would be easily transmitted between humans.

The H5N1 strain has already been confirmed in the villages of Ceamurlia de Jos, Maliuc and Caraorman, where the virus is suspected to have been brought by birds from Russia. The large delta area is a destination for migrating fowl.

Meanwhile, five Ukrainian villages in the Crimean peninsula have been the site for a mass cull in order to contain the country's first bird flu outbreak. Though tough measures are being taken in the area, villagers say their poultry had been infected by the disease for more than two months without any official action being taken.

Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Oleksander Baranivsky confirmed the virus as the H5 subtype on Saturday. He said that the virus was highly lethal to birds and potentially dangerous to humans. According to official data, more than 2,500 birds had died since Friday. Samples were sent to British and Italian laboratories to determine whether the virus is the H5N1 strain.

Though Ukraine had previously been declared free of bird flu, the H5N1 virus strain had been found near its borders in Romania and Russia. Ukraine's top veterinary surgeon, Petro Verbytsky, however stressed that no humans had been affected by the virus, and that contagion was unlikely. "There is 1,000 times less chance of becoming ill from bird flu than there is from tuberculosis," he said.

The H5N1 strain of the avian influenza has killed almost 70 people in parts of Asia since 2003, prompting the slaughter of millions of fowl.

Sources

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