Pet restrictions imposed in German bird flu zones

1st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2006, BERLIN - Pet owners will have to keep their cats indoors and dogs on a leash in areas of Germany hit by bird flu, according to new measures agreed on Wednesday to combat the spread of the disease.

1 March 2006

BERLIN - Pet owners will have to keep their cats indoors and dogs on a leash in areas of Germany hit by bird flu, according to new measures agreed on Wednesday to combat the spread of the disease.

The action was ordered by a government-appointed panel a day after a form of H5N1 bird flu was found in a dead cat on the northern island of Ruegen in the first positive identification of the virus in a mammal in Europe.

The directive applies to pet owners in restricted areas in five German states which have been hit by bird flu since the disease first appeared in Europe's most populous country early last month.

People caught violating the new regulations could face a fine. Officials did not rule out the restrictive measures remaining in force until after April.

"If we continue to have such rampant developments after the migratory birds move on there won't be any alternative," said Deputy Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann, the head of the National Crisis Committee.

The spread of the disease has been blamed on migratory birds resting in northern Germany on their way from Asia. These birds are expected to move on soon.

Experts believe the cat might have died after eating an infected bird, following similar cases in Asia, where more than 90 humans have died of the disease since it first surfaced in mid-2003.

There have been more than 130 cases of bird flu reported in Germany, mostly in wild birds in the northern state of Mecklenburg- West Pomerania, where Ruegen is located.

Health officials ruled out a mass vaccination for domestic pets, pointing out there was no suitable vaccine.

DPA

Subject: German news

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