Bird Flu Reaches Europe | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 10.10.2005
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Bird Flu Reaches Europe

Pushing further towards western Europe, bird flu has reached Turkey and Romania, though it is unclear whether the cases there involve the H5N1 viral strain that poses a threat to humans.

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In Romania, the culling of poultry began on the weekend

Both Turkey and Romania culled thousands of birds on Sunday to prevent the spread of avian flu after its first outbreak in both countries was confirmed over the weekend.

Turkish authorities imposed a 3 km (2 mile) quarantine zone around an affected farm in the northwest of the country, where nearly 2,000 turkeys died from the disease last week, CNN Turk television said.

The government in Ankara has played down the outbreak, saying there is "no link" to the epidemic which recently swept southeast Asia.

"There is no question of a bird flu epidemic posing a general threat to society," a government statement said.

Romania's outbreak was detected in poultry in the Danube delta. The European Commission said the two cases are different, and have raised the spectre of the disease reaching EU countries.

Germany prepared for emergency

PK: Bundesverbraucherschutzministerin Künast zu Vogelgrippe

Consumer protection Minister Renate Künast: Germany is prepared for an outbreak

The German government has reacted calmly to the news, saying it doesn't perceive a threat to Germany. The consumer protection ministry in Berlin has assured the public that it is prepared for an emergency should bird flu hit German farms.

"If we need to, we are in a position to act quickly," said a ministry spokesman.

Plans in Germany include a ban on the free-range keeping of poultry. Some German states have already enforced this measure. Preventing the import of poultry and poultry products from infected areas is also critical to containing an outbreak, the ministry said.

Deadly strain?

Vogelgrippe Labor in Vietnam

Testing for the dangerous H5N1 viral strain

Veterinary experts are carrying out tests to determine what strain of bird flu caused the poultry deaths in Turkey. Romania, which reported its first case of bird flu on Friday, is still trying to establish whether the virus found in the Danube delta region was harmful to humans.

"We found the anti-body of avian flu so far which proves that we are dealing with bird flu," Romanian Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said. "So far, we have been unable to isolate the virus, which means that the longer the process takes, the less chance there is of it being a powerful virus."

The much-feard H5N1 viral strain killed millions of birds across Asia and infected 116 people, killing more than 60 of them. Scientists fear that H5N1 could mutate to become a human flu virus, which could lead to a deadly pandemic.

Turkish newspapers have reported that as many as 16,000 animals could be culled as a result of the outbreak in the Kiziksa district, set to remain under quarantine for 21 days.

Officials said the disease likely came to Turkey from migratory birds attracted to a nature reserve near the quarantined farm.

Vaccinations in Romania

Vogelgrippe breitet sich in Sibirien aus

Bird flu has already reached Siberia

In Romania, 3,400 people living in the Danube delta region have been vaccinated for flu and 125,000 are expected to be vaccinated in the coming days.

Romanian President Calin Tariceanu on Sunday authorized the spending of 2 million euros ($2.4 million) on vaccines and measures to stop the spread of bird flu.

Romania does not have a specific vaccine for avian flu. However this anti-flu vaccine is important as it helps to enhance immunity," health ministry spokeswoman Oana Grigore told AFP.

Agriculture minister Gheorge Flutur said Sunday no further cases of bird flu had been detected in the Danube delta during the past 24 hours.

Bulgaria, which is wedged between Romania and Turkey, said Sunday it was tightening controls against bird flu.

Poland said Greece said Sunday they had banned poultry imports from Romania and Turkey.

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