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Germany

Bird Flu Angst Grows in Germany

Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer on Wednesday said a new poultry lock-down was "highly likely," and the WHO has demanded tougher measures ahead of the world's biggest agricultural fair in Berlin.

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Governments are trying various measures to contain the bird flu

Germany is considering stronger measures in response to the bird flu cases found in Turkey.

On Wednesday, German Agricultural Minister Horst Seehofer said that it was "highly likely" that the government would issue a new order to enclose poultry in a bid to prevent a bird flu outbreak. On the same, day the World Health Organization demanded tighter monitoring at the "Green Week" fair in Berlin, which opens on Friday.

The measures reveal a heightened state of anxiety regarding the deadly virus, which has killed at least two teenagers in Turkey. Turkish authorities on Wednesday confirmed a new human infection, bringing the number of people under treatment for avian flu to 13, and prompting the WHO to declare that the disease was now at Europe's doorstep.

Seehofer said an expert commission would decide by the end of January whether a lock-up is necessary. The envisioned time period is March 1 to April 30, during peak bird migrating season, but it could also be ordered earlier if the weather was warmer than usual and the danger of infection grew.


"We will do everything humanly possible, the federal and state governments together with Europe, to contain this dangerous animal disease," Seehofer said.

EU Ban on Turkish poultry

Germany in mid-October ordered poultry to be enclosed for several weeks to prevent a possible bird flu epidemic.

On Monday, the German government issued a warning against importing poultry from Turkey, saying it would take the "strongest measures" against anybody breaching a European Union ban.

"Whoever illegally imports products from the regions affected by bird flu will be behaving in an irresponsible and negligent manner," said Seehofer in a statement. "We will implement the strongest measures against people who try."

He said "very strict" controls were in place at Germany's borders to check for poultry coming from Turkey and other affected countries.

Warning against Turkish poultry markets

The government stepped up border controls in August and the European Union in October issued a ban on imports of live birds, poultry and poultry products from Turkey, which remains in place.

Seehofer said the federal government would in the coming days look at further tightening controls in several German states.

Germany has a Turkish population of some 2.5 million people and Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Germans.

A spokesman for the agriculture ministry warned German tourists not to visit poultry markets in Turkey and to avoid contact with animals in that country in general.

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