Flu EU bans Turkey bird imports as Turks battle avian flu

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by Quigley_Sharps, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    MANYAS, Turkey (Reuters) - The European Commission announced a ban on all imports of live birds and feathers from Turkey into the 25-nation EU on Monday after Ankara confirmed an outbreak of the highly contagious avian influenza.

    But Turkish experts battling the disease played down fears of the kind of epidemic caused by the H5N1 avian influenza virus that has killed millions of birds and 65 people in Asia since 2003. The H5N1 virus is the most deadly of a number of known versions of bird flu.

    The Commission said it was taking no steps at the moment over a suspected outbreak of bird flu in Romania.

    Results of bird flu tests in Romania and Turkey should be known by Wednesday, October 12, and the Commission would act immediately in accordance with those findings, it said.

    "The virological analyses have confirmed that the virus is present (in Turkey) but at the moment we are not able to say what type of virus we are talking about -- how pathogenic it is," said Philip Tod, the Commission's health spokesman.

    Turkey has so far culled about 3,000 turkeys and chickens after reporting its first outbreak of avian flu at a farm in the district of Manyas, which is near the Aegean and Marmara Seas.

    It has clamped a 3-km (2 mile) quarantine zone around the farm, where 1,870 turkeys died of the disease last week. Teams of veterinary experts in white overalls and gloves are hurriedly burying the slaughtered birds in lime-drenched pits.

    "The precautionary measures are continuing but this outbreak of disease is not an epidemic. It is not spreading at the moment," veterinary surgeon Arif Zorlu told Reuters.

    "To prevent any spread, our technical team in the area is killing poultry and we will continue doing so for 21 days to avert the possibility of an epidemic," he said, adding that the slaughtered birds had not shown any symptoms of illness.

    In a statement urging public calm and vigilance, Turkey's farm ministry said: "Everything is under control."


    Romania was also conducting a widespread cull after it detected an outbreak in the Danube delta.

    Private television station Realitatea TV reported dozens of birds, including swans and poultry, had been found dead in the village of Maliuc in the delta on Monday.

    Quarantines were imposed on seven affected Romanian villages, hunting was banned in the delta and the agriculture minister said the country would cull around 45,000 birds.

    He said scientists there had ruled out avian flu in some of the stricken birds found and were trying to isolate the virus in others to discover which strain they were infected with.

    Bulgaria, sandwiched between Turkey and Romania, announced a ban on imports of poultry and poultry products from its Black Sea neighbors on Monday. Ukraine, which shares a border with Romania, followed suit.

    Non-EU member Switzerland also banned poultry imports from Turkey and Romania. Earlier, Hungary announced a ban on Romanian poultry imports and Greece banned imports from Romania and Turkey. Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary beefed up border checks.

    Turkey's Poultry Producers and Breeders Association said samples of the dead birds had been sent to a specialist laboratory in Britain to identify the strain of the virus. It said the results should be known within a week.

    Britain said on Sunday it was in touch with the Turkish authorities to see what assistance was needed, and said it was sending a team to Romania on Monday to help there.

    The H5N1 avian influenza virus has killed millions of birds across Asia and infected 116 people, killing more than 60 of them. Scientists fear the virus, known to pass to humans from birds, could mutate and be passed among humans.

    "BIG BLOW"

    Turkey's Health Ministry on Sunday denied any link between the outbreak at Manyas and the Asian epidemic.

    "This is a big blow to Turkey's poultry exports and could also hurt domestic sales," said Yuce Canoler of the Turkish Poultry Producers and Breeders Association.

    A Turkish ornithologist told Reuters it was "99 percent certain" that the Manyas outbreak was caused by migrating birds.

    "Manyas is an important destination for migrating birds. I think the bird flu came by this route, so migration has to be closely monitored in Turkey," said Mehmet Deli.

    Romania's Danube delta contains Europe's largest wetlands and is also a major migratory area for wild birds coming from Russia, Scandinavia, Poland and Germany.

    Romanian ornithologists said they expected hundreds of thousands of migratory birds to arrive in the next two months.

    (Additional reporting by Jeremy Smith in Brussels, Mustafa Yukselbaba in Ankara, Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul, Kremena Miteva in Sofia, Andras Gergely in Budapest, Radu Marinas in Bucharest)
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

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