Bird Flu Alarm

2006-04-07-EU Extends Bird Ban as Germans Cull Poultry

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-04-07-EU Extends Bird Ban as Germans Cull Poultry

The EU extended an import ban on poultry from some non-member states after Germany found bird flu on a poultry farm.

Fears of the bird flu spreading led the EU to extend for three months an import ban on poultry and poultry products from Turkey, Romania and parts of Croatia.

EU health experts approved a proposal by the European Commission to extend the ban from April 30 to July 31, said the commission in a statement.

"The import bans are being prolonged due to new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in these three countries since the first outbreaks were reported," it said.

The confirmation of a case in the UK brought to 13 the number of countries in the EU reporting cases of the disease.

First outbreak on German poultry farm

Four people died in eastern Turkey after an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of the virus there in January. Croatia and Romania are also among a rash of countries where the virus has been found.

The lethal strain of the virus has killed more than 90 people, mainly in China and Southeast Asia, since 2003.

At the same meeting of the EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH), experts also confirmed a clampdown following the first outbreak of H5N1 on a poultry farm in Germany.

The German case, in the eastern state of Saxony, was the third outbreak of H5N1 on a poultry farm in the EU -- as opposed to in wild birds -- following cases in France and Sweden.

The EU committee confirmed a buffer zone had been put in place around the affected holding, saying the measures in the zone will remain in force until May 8, "subject to review over the coming weeks."

Continuing to kill chickens

Meanwhile, the German government said some 14,000 more fowl will be slaughtered in a small town near Leipzig where H5N1 bird flu has killed turkeys in the first outbreak on a farm in Germany.

More than 16,400 turkeys, chicken and geese have already been slaughtered since the virus was confirmed Wednesday in the farm in Wermsdorf.

Britain confirmed Thursday its first case of H5N1 bird flu after Scottish officials said the mute swan -- found last week on a harbor slipway in Cellardyke, Fife -- perished from the same H5N1 strain that has killed more than 100 people, mainly in Asia.

In Scotland, local officials, reacting to confirmation that a dead mute swan had the disease, ordered all free-range poultry within a 2,500 square kilometer (960 square mile) "wild bird risk area" to be brought inside.

Charles Milne, Scotland's chief veterinary officer, stressed that the move was precautionary, and that experience in other western European countries showed that the probability of poultry getting H5N1 was "extremely low."

Third death in Egypt

Egypt reported its third human death, so far the only country outside of Asia to have reported human infections and deaths.

Iman Mohammed Abdel Gawad, a 16-year-old girl from the northern governorate of Menufiya, died after being rushed to hospital Wednesday suffering from high fever and shortness of breath, the official MENA news agency reported.

She was one of two new cases reported Thursday, bringing to 11 to the total number of confirmed transmissions to humans in the most populous Arab country. According to the latest figures released by the World Health Organization, the H5N1 strain has killed at least 108 people worldwide but experts say many cases go unreported.

The bulk of human cases were reported in the Far East and China, where the epidemic broke out in 2003, but Egypt, Turkey and Azerbaijan have been the most affected countries in the new wave of infections that spread westwards this year.

Understanding Avian Influenza