Bird flu suspected to have killed geese in Germany

25th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2005, KOBLENZ, GERMANY - Amid fears that avian influenza has spread to wild birds in Europe, a German laboratory was testing Tuesday the remains of 22 dead geese found the previous day on a pond 100 kilometres west of Frankfurt.

25 October 2005

KOBLENZ, GERMANY - Amid fears that avian influenza has spread to wild birds in Europe, a German laboratory was testing Tuesday the remains of 22 dead geese found the previous day on a pond 100 kilometres west of Frankfurt.

Stefan Bent, head of the state animal inspection office, said 20 scientists were assigned to urgently discover the cause of death.

The results of the tests were expected Tuesday evening.

"There's no laboratory that can do such tests any faster than we are doing them," said Bent. The tests first had to establish if the birds were killed by influenza at all. If so, the scientists would establish if the deadly H5N1 strain of flu was involved.

Earlier a spokeswoman said there was no external sign on the birds that they had died of influenza. A boy noticed the dead birds Monday evening. Earlier reports that some were ducks proved incorrect.

Bent said it was unknown if the dead birds had spent the summer in Germany, which is free of bird flu, or were in migration from Russia, where the H5N1 virus has been detected, to winter feeding grounds.

Firemen from the town of Neuwied wore biological protection suits to scoop up the carcasses at a flooded gravel pit Monday evening and take them in metal boxes to the laboratory in nearby Koblenz run by the German state of Rhineland Palatinate.

Some of the geese gave a last sharp twitch and died as the firemen watched. Swans on the same pond appeared to be healthy.

Signs went up at the pond warning people there was "mortal danger" from wading in the water, but the mayor of Neuwied, Reiner Kilgen, said there was no reason for panic.

So far the H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus has reached Russia, Romania and Turkey. The only poultry infection in western Europe has been at a British quarantine station. More than 60 people in Asia have caught the illness from birds and died.

Germany has already ordered poultry owners to keep their stock indoors till December because of the scare. Germany and Britain have backed a full-scale ban on imports of poultry to the European Union.

DPA

Subject: German news

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