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18 October 2005

More Reports of Bird Flu Emerge in Europe

Health agency says cases appear in Romania, Turkey; reported in Greece

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported October 17 that laboratory tests have confirmed chickens in Romania were infected with the H5N1 avian flu virus that has caused the deaths of more than 150 million birds in Asia.

OIE reported October 13 that the virus strain detected in Romania was suspected to be H5N1; at the same time it confirmed H5N1 in Turkey.

A second outbreak now has occurred in Romania, about 60 kilometers from the first one, OIE says.

Bird flu also has appeared in Greece, according to October 18 news reports.  Turkeys are dying on a farm on the Greek island of Chios, though H5N1 has not been verified by laboratory testing as the cause of death.

European appearances of the disease lend greater credence to the possibility that migratory birds carried this strain of flu from Siberia, where the disease appeared in July.

“The role of migratory birds carrying the Asian H5N1 influenza virus under certain conditions to other parts of the world seems now to become more likely,” according to an OIE press release.

The Paris-based organization echoed the warnings from U.N. and U.S. health officials in recent days about the link between animal health and human health.  (See related article.)

“It is urgent to take the relevant measures to tackle avian influenza at its animal source in order to prevent a possible human pandemic,” the OIE announcement said.

The World Health Organization has confirmed 117 human cases of H5N1 infection in four Asian nations, resulting in 60 deaths.

“The possibility of a human pandemic is directly linked to the quantity of the H5N1 virus circulating among animals worldwide,” OIE said.

For more information on U.S. and international efforts to combat avian influenza, see Bird Flu.

The text of the OIE press release follows:

(begin text)

World Organisation for Animal Health
[OIE]
[Paris, France]

http://www.oie.int/

Updated : 17-Oct-2005

H5N1 virus confirmed in Romania samples from chickens collected in Jurj Vasile (Romania) and analyzed at the OIE Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza, Weybridge, UK have been confirmed to contain Influenza A subtype H5N1.

As already expected by the OIE on Thursday (see press release of 13 October 2005), the analyses carried out show a direct relationship with the avian influenza viruses detected recently in central Asia and Turkey.

A second Romanian outbreak has been reported to the OIE. It is located in Maliuc County at 60 km from the first one reported in Ceamurlia-de-Josle.

With regard to Turkey more information is currently being requested of the Turkish authorities concerning a second possible outbreak located at the borderline with Iran.

The role of migratory birds carrying the Asian H5N1 influenza virus under certain conditions to other parts of the world seems now to become more likely.

Following the situation very closely, the OIE again recalls the importance of eliminating the virus at the animal source, emphasizing the need for early detection and rapid response mechanisms carried out by Veterinary Services in countries at risk.

It is urgent to take the relevant measures to tackle avian influenza at its animal source in order to prevent a possible human pandemic. Indeed, the possibility of a human pandemic is directly linked to the quantity of the H5N1 virus circulating among animals worldwide.

October 2005

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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