Bird flu heading towards West, says Turkey By Kate Connolly in Ankara (Filed: 11/01/2006) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai.../ixnewstop.html Officials in Turkey admitted yesterday that the deadly strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus was marching across the country and had infected poultry in 25 cities. The virus appeared to be spreading westwards. Four people were hospitalised in the town of Aydin, near the Aegean coast in the south-west of the country. The area is one of Turkey's biggest tourist magnets and popular with British holidaymakers. Bird flu was detected in fowl in the Aegean port city of Izmir, while on Monday, it was found in birds at the resort of Kusadasi, a stone's throw from the Greek island of Samos. The news sparked fears that it could do years of damage to tourism, Turkey's most important industry. In London, the Foreign Office advised visitors to Turkey: "Avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked." Fifteen cases of H5N1 infection of humans, all of whom were in contact with birds, have been confirmed in central, eastern and northern Turkey. The virus, which originated in Asia, has so far killed a teenage boy and girl - and probably a younger child - in the same family. In the capital, Ankara, three cases have been confirmed, while four suspected cases are being treated in two hospitals. Countries across Europe stepped up their controls on travellers arriving from Turkey. In Germany sniffer dogs examined the luggage of people coming off flights from Istanbul and Ankara to ensure they did not contain any poultry products, while neighbouring countries set up disinfectant baths for cars or people to pass through. None of those in hospital was believed to be in a critical condition. According to the health ministry all had been bird-to-human transmission cases, rather than the feared human to human scenario. After a stuttering start to its attempts to fight the virus, the government was keen last night to stress that it had the situation under control. It said it had culled 306,000 birds, even as some people, particularly in rural areas, attempted to hide their poultry from veterinary inspectors. "The situation is fully under control. We will continue to deal with the situation with utmost care," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister. The fear of some experts however, is that the closer the contact those who contract the disease have with others, the greater the chance H5N1 has of mutating into an illness transferrable from human to human, sparking a pandemic. The government issued a health and safety film yesterday in which it urged citizens: "Don't risk your life or those of your family - hand in your birds."