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Turkey, Romania Killing Fowl After Avian Flu Outbreaks


9 October 2005 -- Turkish authorities say they are moving quickly to control the country's first outbreak of avian flu, which emerged as officials in nearby Romania began culling domestic birds in the Danube Delta after confirming their own outbreak on 7 October.

Tests are reportedly being carried out to determine whether the cases are of the deadliest strain of the disease, known as H5N1.

Turkish Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said an outbreak of avian flu in the western region of his country is under control. Authorities today quarantined a farm in Turkey's western Balikesir province after 2,000 turkeys infected with the influenza died there.

Authorities are preparing to destroy all fowl as well as stray dogs in the vicinity of the outbreak.

Health experts view the spread of avian flu and the risk of it transferring to humans as the biggest current health threat in the world. It is feared that millions of people could die if the bird flu spreads to humans and becomes pandemic.

European countries have expressed concern about the reported bird-flu cases in Turkey and Romania.

Britain is sending a team of experts to Romania to help with tests for bird flu. Germany, meanwhile, has issued an appeal to Romania and Turkey to provide the EU and international specialists with all the information they have on the flu.

The disease has now appeared in domestic bird populations from Southeast Asia to Southeast Europe, killing fowl in Russia and Kazakhstan in between.

Authorities in Romania began killing thousands of domestic birds on 7 October in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading further.

In the villages of Romania's Danube Delta area, hundreds of domestic birds are being unceremoniously gathered together by workers from the Agriculture Ministry. They are placed in rubbish bins, where they are killed. Their bodies are then wrapped in plastic and dumped at the bottom of deep pits, where they are burned in an attempt to kill off the virus. Meanwhile, farmland where the infected birds lived is sprayed with chemicals.

Romanian Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said the cull became necessary after tests confirmed several cases of bird flu in the area.

"[On 7 October], a laboratory for animals confirmed three cases of domestic birds which tested positive for the avian flu in the village of Ceamurlia de Jos in the Danube River delta area," Flutur said. He added that further tests of the dead birds would be conducted in the United Kingdom.

The mayor of one Romanian village in the area said it was too risky to leave healthy birds alive.

"We are even taking live birds from the village, even the healthy ones, and we are burning them all," the mayor said. "We are disinfecting all the farms. We are in quarantine grade A."

What Romanian and Turkish authorities are doing to prevent the spread of the disease has already been done in several Asian countries during the last two years. The avian flu has killed more than 60 people in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt today begins a 10-day trip to those countries to discuss the fight against bird flu and efforts to keep it from spreading to humans.

(compiled from wire reports)

Related story:

Culling Begins In Romania After Bird Flu Confirmed
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