Turkey slaughters birds amid flu fears

The Turkish authorities have started slaughtering poultry at farms near a western village as a precaution after the agriculture minister confirmed the country’s first bird flu case at a turkey farm in the region, news reports say.

A government team removes culled birds in Balikesir province
A government team removes culled birds in Balikesir province

Military police on Sunday set up roadblocks at the entrance to a village near Balikesir, western Turkey, checking all vehicles entering and exiting. A three-kilometre radius was quarantined while a seven-kilometre radius was put under close watch.

Journalists were kept at bay while veterinarians and other officials began destroying poultry at two turkey farms.

It was not known how many animals would be destroyed, but the Anatolia news agency reported that the authorities had slaughtered 600 out of 2500 turkeys on one farm by noon on Sunday.

Fowl as well as pigeons and stray dogs in the village would be killed, said Agriculture Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Nihat Pakdil.

Animals destroyed

Bird flu was detected at a turkey farm after about 1800 birds died this week, Anatolia reported. All animals in the farm were destroyed.

The outbreak was confirmed by Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker on Saturday and his ministry said it thought the disease had spread from migratory birds that land at the nearby Manyas Bird Sanctuary, on their way to Africa from the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Manyas is about 10km from the turkey farm where the disease was detected.

Turkeys destined for culling inthe country’s Balikesir province

Turkeys destined for culling in
the country’s Balikesir province

Anatolia, quoting officials, on Friday said it was confirmed that the birds in Turkey died of the H5 type of bird flu.

That would suggest the scientists have narrowed it down to an H5-type virus, the family of the bird flu virus that experts are watching, but have not determined whether it is the H5N1 strain that health officials are particularly worried about.

Eker said Turkish officials had been communicating with EU officials and other international organisations about the outbreak, Anatolia reported.

“There are no new cases,” Anatolia quoted Pakdil as saying. “The situation is good because bird flu is a disease which can spread fast.

“But we are pressing ahead with controls and precautions.”

Romania starts vaccines

In Romania, anti-flu vaccines were being administered to thousands of people on Sunday after the bird flu was detected there on Friday, AFP reported.

A man gets anti-flu vaccination near Romania’s Danube delta

A man gets anti-flu vaccination
near Romania’s Danube delta

The Romanian authorities said that on the basis of preliminary tests, they feared that three ducks in the southeastern Tulcea region had been infected with the H5N1 strain transmissible to humans.

“The analysis by Romanian experts shows that it is the virus H5N1. It is quite possible that this form of the virus is less virulent than the Asian one,” said health official Rodica Costina.

However, final confirmation of Europe’s first contamination by the virus was expected within two weeks from a laboratory in Britain.

No human cases

Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu said that no human cases had been detected so far in the Eastern European country.

About 3400 people living in the Danube delta region have been vaccinated for flu and 125,000 are expected to be vaccinated in the coming days, Nicolaescu said on Sunday.

Romanian police posted alongroads after bird-flu quarantine

Romanian police posted along
roads after bird-flu quarantine

Romania does not have a specific vaccine for avian flu, but the vaccine helps to enhance immunity, Health Ministry spokeswoman Oana Grigore said.

There are several strains of bird flu but only a few are deadly. Experts are tracking the H5N1 strain, which does not pass from person to person easily, but which experts think could mutate to a form that becomes a human flu virus, triggering a pandemic.

H5N1 has swept through poultry populations in Asia since 2003, infecting humans and killing at least 60 people, mostly poultry workers, and resulting in the deaths of more than 100 million birds.

Source : AFP

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