All poultry at the site of Romania's second outbreak of the potentially deadly strain of bird flu have been slaughtered, local authorities said.


"Slaughtering operations [at Maliuc in southeast Romania in the Danube delta] were finalised during the night. All the same, veterinarians are going to comb the village again to make sure no birds are left," said Lefter Chirica, prefect of the Tulcea department.

He said all the inhabitants of Maliuc and Ceamurlia de Jos, site of the country's first outbreak, had been vaccinated and were under strict medical surveillance to detect any sign of possible illness.

The two sites had been quarantined and disinfected, he added.

Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said on Sunday that analyses of hundreds of samples taken from areas where dead birds had been found in recent days had been negative, suggesting the outbreaks had been limited in scope.

He said the British laboratory, which on Saturday identified the H5N1 strain of avian flu in samples from Ceamurlia de Jos, should reveal early this week details of analysis of the samples from two birds from Maliuc, "probably carriers of the same virus".

Turkey under control

Meanwhile, officials investigating the deaths of about 1000 chickens in eastern Turkey said that initial lab tests showed no signs of bird flu, and that an outbreak in the western village of Kiziksa had been contained.

"Slaughtering operations [at Maliuc in southeast Romania in the Danube delta] were finalised during the night. All the same, veterinarians are going to comb the village again to make sure no birds are left"

Lefter Chirica,
prefect of the Tulcea department

Veterinarians from the Agriculture Ministry said on Sunday that nearly 10,000 birds had been killed in Kiziksa after a mandatory order to deliver them for destruction.

The authorities are on alert across Turkey, however, and have warned that migratory birds could still spread the flu elsewhere.

Initial lab results found no traces of bird flu from samples taken after about 1000 chickens died in a flock of about 6000 in the town of Patnos in Agri province near the border with Iran.

Initial test results


Ufuk Dinler, head of a Veterinary Research Institute in nearby Erzurum province, told the Anatolia news agency that according to early test results, it did not "resemble" bird flu, saying final results would be available in five or six days.

Still, the authorities in Agri province banned the entry of poultry into the province from other cities. The dead chickens were initially brought in for sale from the western province of Bursa and the central province of Corum.

Television footage distributed by the CHA news agency showed people in Patnos hurling hundreds of dead chickens onto a truck using shovels or their bare hands, and not using any protective gear.

The area has not been placed under quarantine.

 

"We've seen dead chickens in the streets of Patnos for more than a week," teacher Mahmut Sahin said by telephone from Patnos. "The municipality workers were collecting them."

Another scare

 

Up to 1000 chickens were also reported to have died in the past 15 days in a village near Halfeti, a town in the south-eastern province of Sanliurfa.

 

Romanian authorities say the
cull has been completed

Halfeti governor Ahmet Odabas told Anatolia that the chickens may have been poisoned from pesticides, adding that tests would determine the cause of death.

The virus found on a farm near the western Turkish village of Kiziksa, 120km from Istanbul, was the deadly H5N1 strain that has decimated flocks in Asia and killed dozens of people there.

Health authorities around the world fear it could mutate into a deadly form of flu that can be transmitted easily among people, leading to a pandemic which some say could potentially kill millions.

Difficult to contract

Although H5N1 is highly contagious among birds, it is difficult for humans to contract. Still, it has killed about 60 people in Asia, mostly poultry farmers infected directly by birds.

 

"As the disease appeared a week ago, the incubation period is over. Had there been a new infection it would have manifested itself by now"

Ramazan Uzun,
Turkish Health Ministry official

Turkish officials insist the virus has been contained, and a Health Ministry official said on Saturday there was no longer a danger that the virus detected at the farm could spread.

"As the disease appeared a week ago, the incubation period is over," Anatolia quoted Health Ministry official Ramazan Uzun as saying.

 

"Had there been a new infection it would have manifested itself by now."

Spreading through migration


Experts believe the disease was brought by wild birds migrating through Turkey from the Ural Mountains in Russia to Africa.

Mustafa Altuntas, the head of an association of Turkish veterinarians, said there was a risk of new outbreaks in other parts of Turkey, especially near wetlands.

After the disease was found on the farm in Kiziksa, the authorities ordered all poultry within a 3-km radius of the village to be delivered to authorities to be gassed, disinfected and buried.

Throughout the week, farmers could be seen marching across the village with sacks full of birds, pulling them out with their bare hands and insisting that their animals were "perfectly healthy".

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged citizens to remain calm, saying too much had been made of the outbreak.