- BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania
and Turkey reported new cases of avian flu on Saturday and began culling
hundreds of birds to prevent the globally feared disease from spreading.
- If the Romanian cases turn out to be the deadly H5N1
virus, they would be the first evidence the strain has spread to Europe
from Asia, where it has killed 65 people and millions of birds since 2003.
Russia and Kazakhstan have already had outbreaks.
- Experts fear the H5N1 virus could mutate into one which
spreads easily among humans, creating a pandemic that might kill millions.
The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 killed between 20 and 40 million
- Ion Agafitei, Romania's chief veterinarian, told reporters
three birds had tested positive in the Danube delta village of Smardan
after the first cases emerged in another village on Friday.
- Further tests, some in Britain, were planned to discover
whether the strain is H5N1.
- CNN Turk television quoted Turkish Farm Minister Mehdi
Eker as saying bird flu had been discovered in Turkey for the first time.
- The television station said turkeys had died of the disease
on a farm in Balikesir province near the Aegean Sea in western Turkey.
All animals on the farm had been slaughtered.
- "Yesterday, unfortunately, we experienced a case
of bird flu. But everything is under control, every precautionary measure
has been taken to prevent it spreading," CNN Turk quoted Eker as saying.
The minister gave no details.
- The farm is located near a natural park known for its
rich birdlife. CNN Turk quoted the provincial deputy governor, Halil Yavuz
Kaya, as saying the turkeys could have contracted the disease from migratory
- VILLAGERS ANGRY
- In Romania, quarantines were imposed on the two affected
villages and five others which had suspicious bird deaths in recent days.
No livestock may be taken from the delta to market.
- In Ceamurlia de Jos, a few km (miles) from the Black
Sea, men with white masks poisoned dozens of birds with carbon dioxide
before burning them.
- "Nobody dares to eat poultry here after what happened,"
Mihai Carciumaru, the mayor of the village, told Reuters.
- "I attended a wedding today and I asked doctors
to check whether the guests had poultry on their menu. But it's not the
case, they've all decided to eat pork."
- Romanian television showed peasants from the village
saying large numbers of poultry had died in recent days.
- "Mysteriously my birds die one after another. I've
lost 45 geese and authorities will kill the rest leaving me with nothing,"
an angry villager told private station Antena 3.
- The Danube delta contains Europe's largest wetlands and
is a major migratory area for wild birds coming from Russia, Scandinavia,
Poland and Germany. The birds mainly move to warmer areas in North Africa
including the Nile delta for winter.
- Romanian authorities banned hunting across the delta,
which is home to 14,000 people, and sent medical teams to test for possible
- Bulgaria, which is seen as a potential next destination
for the bird flu outbreak, said it had not yet registered any cases. Veterinary
officials said they would travel to the Danube river border region to monitor
the implementation of safety rules.
- The New York Times said a draft of the U.S. government's
final plan for dealing with a flu pandemic showed the country was woefully
- The document says a large outbreak that began in Asia
would be likely to reach the United States within "a few months or
even weeks" and that more than 1.9 million people could die.
- (Additional reporting by Martin Dokoupil and Marius Zaharia)
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
- Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message
- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health