Shock as bird flu kills swan at zoo in Germany

4th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

4 August 2006, DRESDEN - Animal-lovers were in shock Friday after avian influenza infected a zoo animal for the first time in Germany, where bird flu has so far only killed wild animals and farm poultry. The death of an Australian black swan at Dresden Zoo in eastern Germany raised fears that animal collections which have taken a century or more to create might be decimated by the H5N1 virus. The young bird was found floating dead on a zoo pond Tuesday. Zoo biologist Roland Brockmann said, "Black swans die

4 August 2006

DRESDEN - Animal-lovers were in shock Friday after avian influenza infected a zoo animal for the first time in Germany, where bird flu has so far only killed wild animals and farm poultry.

The death of an Australian black swan at Dresden Zoo in eastern Germany raised fears that animal collections which have taken a century or more to create might be decimated by the H5N1 virus.

The young bird was found floating dead on a zoo pond Tuesday. Zoo biologist Roland Brockmann said, "Black swans die quite often, so at first we weren't so worried." But lab tests confirmed the cause of death late Thursday.

It had been nearly three months since the last bird flu case in Germany. Like human flu, the disease spreads when it is wet and cold.

Dresden Zoo quarantined other black swans Friday and demanded government clearance to vaccinate the rest of its bird collection against bird flu. The zoo has 720 birds of 112 species.

Brockmann speculated that the virus might have entered the zoo last winter when wild birds stayed on the ponds. Staff were worried that other species, such as the lions, might eat dead birds and become infected.

Visitors continued to tour the zoo Friday after assurances that the virus does not spread through the air.

"I don't cuddle ducks anyway," said a small boy.

DPA

Subject: German news, bird flu

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