Bird Flu Found, Nations Kill Foul

Health workers push a duck into a container before gassing it in Ceamulia de Jos, Romania. Hundreds of birds have been either found dead or killed as a precaution in eastern Romania. AP

Thousands of domestic fowl in Turkey and Romania were being slaughtered as a precaution against the spread of bird flu after both countries confirmed the disease in domestic fowl.

In western Turkey, military police set up roadblocks at the entrance to a village near Balikesir and quarantined the area while veterinarians and other officials destroyed poultry at two turkey farms. Other fowl — including pigeons — and stray dogs also were killed as a precaution, said Nihat Pakdil, undersecretary of Turkey's Agriculture Ministry.

In eastern Romania, some 40,000 birds were to be slaughtered in coming days, authorities said.

Late last week, Romanian authorities reported the country's first suspected bird flu cases — three domestic ducks that died of bird flu in the eastern village of Ceamurlia de Jos last month.

On Saturday, a dead swan found on a beach in the Black Sea port of Constanta similarly tested positive for bird flu antibodies.

Tests were being conducted in Britain to determine whether the disease that infected the fowl in Romania's Danube River delta had the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Meanwhile, a recent draft of the Bush administration's plan to deal with a possible bird flu outbreak in the United States reportedly shows the U.S. is woefully unprepared CBS News' Melissa McDermott reports. And health experts say such an outbreak could kill nearly two million Americans.

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. The virus does not pass from person to person easily, but experts believe it could mutate to a form that becomes a human flu virus, passing easily between people and triggering a pandemic.

"I think it's better to take these preventive measures now" even without confirmation of the H5N1 virus, Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said.

Bird flu also was detected at a farm in Turkey after some 1,800 birds died last week, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkey's Agriculture Ministry confirmed the outbreak Saturday and said the disease was believed to have spread from migratory birds on their way to Africa from Russia's Ural mountains.

Scientists have apparently narrowed the disease in Turkey down to an H5 type virus but have not narrowed it further to determine whether it is the H5N1 strain that health officials are particularly worried about.

Germany appealed to Romania and Turkey to provide the European Union and international specialists with all available information on the outbreaks.

"The risk to Europe and Germany itself is difficult to establish," said Alexander Mueller of Germany's Agriculture Ministry.

Some German states have already ordered farmers to keep their poultry in closed sheds or cages for two months to keep them from being exposed to migratory birds that might spread bird flu from Russia.

On Monday, Greece banned poultry imports from Turkey and Romania.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Alekos Kontos said the order was issued late Sunday along with a nationwide increase in poultry inspections.

"Precautionary measures have been stepped up since the case in Turkey. All relevant Greek services have been alerted," Kontos said.

  • Lloyd Vries

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