Bird Flu Alarm

2006-01-12-Bird flu hits poultry in at least 11 Turkish provinces

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-01-12-Bird flu hits poultry in at least 11 Turkish provinces

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Bird flu has been identified in poultry in 11 of Turkey's 81 provinces while birds in a further 14 provinces are suspected of having the virus, Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said on Thursday.



"It's confirmed in 11 provinces among birds and suspected in a further 14 provinces," he told a news conference in eastern Turkey broadcast live on television.

The deadly H5N1 virus has been found in wild birds and poultry across Turkey. It has killed at least two children and infected more than a dozen people in little more than a week.

More than 350,000 poultry had been culled in the past two weeks, Eker said. The culling program continues.

"Everyone is working very seriously combating it everywhere," he said, adding no shortage of personnel existed.

Scientists fear H5N1, which is known to have killed 78 people, could mutate into a form that can spread easily between humans, leading to a pandemic. The European Union warned its members not to relax their vigilance in the bird flu battle and several countries have stepped up their border controls.

"Since the new year the population is getting more informed and that is good for us because it's easier to protect the population against the virus," the minister said.

Sick birds have been found almost entirely in poor villages and impoverished areas on the outskirts of large cities, particularly in backyards, gardens and in houses, he said.

Understanding Avian Influenza