- Title: VARIOUS: EU urges global fight against bird flu
- Date: 19th October 2005
- Summary: CUSTOMS OFFICIAL CHECKING LUGGAGE LUGGAGE CUSTOMS OFFICIAL
- Reuters ID: LVA8P6E4S41WF0XA2L9I90CDIVTZ
- Duration: 00:00:14
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: Health
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: EU foreign ministers sought to reassure the public on Tuesday (October 18) that the threat of a flu pandemic among humans had not increased after bird flu was recorded in at least three southeast European countries. They held emergency talks after EU member Greece reported that a case of bird flu had been detected on the remote Aegean island of Inousses, following confirmed cases of a deadly strain of the virus in Romania and Turkey. Greece banned exports of poultry from some of its Aegean islands on Tuesday but warned people not to panic pending test results that could show the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain has reached the European Union.
The suspect turkey belonged to farmer Dimitris Komninaris. He alerted authorities after some of his turkey's fell ill. "There are still six or seven birds left (on the farm). I am waiting for them to come and tell me what to do with them, I don't know if I should kill them," he said. The results of tests on the flu-infected bird are expected in about a week. "Orological tests which will take seven to eight days will confirm if there is the existence of N1, which is the virus that was found in Asia," said Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos.
Health officials arrived on the island on Tuesday to examine the farmer's family and decontaminate the farm. Special isolation chambers at the hospital on the nearby island of Chios, created last year in all major Greek hospitals ahead of the Athens Olympics, were on standby. Poultry farmers on Chios were devastated by the news. Antonis Sevigas, a 40 year veteran poultry farmer, with tens of thousands of birds, said more than five thousand chickens from his farm were due to be sent to market, but now they must be contained. "What will happen to my flock, what will I do with all these birds," he said.
The EU's health chief said the presence of the disease in south-eastern Europe did not increase the risk of a human influenza pandemic. He also warned people against taking anti-flu drugs without medical advice. "The fact we have avian flu in Europe does not affect the possibility of a human influenza pandemic," EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told a news conference after briefing ministers.
The EU ministers discussed the bloc's readiness to tackle avian flu but also how well prepared European countries are in terms of fighting influenza pandemics. The virulent H5N1 strain of the virus, which has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003, was found last week in Turkey and Romania. Kyprianou said the European Commission was assuming that migrating birds were spreading the disease in Europe.
Romania's agriculture minister, Gheorghe Flutur, said the country had detected new cases of suspected bird flu in the Danube delta, one of them close to the border with Ukraine. Tests were being carried out to see whether it was the H5 virus, of which H5N1 is one of the deadly sub-strains. "A swan tested positive with (bird flu) antibodies close to the border with Ukraine, near the village of C.A. Rosetti. A few swans in Maliuc and a wild duck in Ceamurlia de Jos also tested seropositive," he said. Croatia has also started testing dead birds found by citizens. controls on incoming flights from Romania and Turkey as concern mounts. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs instructed dog handlers at Heathrow airport to be extra vigilant in their checks on baggage brought in from the two countries. Swedish customs also begun checking airline passengers from Turkey to make sure they were not bringing in birds, feathers or eggs which might be infected. Sweden's customs service said it was tightening controls at Stockholm's main Arlanda airport as well as Gothenburg, Malmo and other lesser cities for scheduled flights or charters from Turkey.
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- Embargoed:3rd November 2005 12:00