Poultry still clear as bird flu continues German march
23 February 2006
SCHWERIN, GERMANY – Bird flu continued to make inroads in Germany on Thursday – but tests showed that a virulent strain of the disease has not spread to domestic poultry.
The tests were carried out on a duck suspected of having been infected with the lethal H5N1 strain on the north-east island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea.
Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer said a series of tests conducted by the Institute of Animal Health had shown conclusively that the animal was not contaminated.
The duck was among 50 ducks and chickens kept privately. The rest were culled as a precaution to stop the disease from spreading. If the test had been positive, it would have been the first case of the virus spreading to domestic poultry in Germany.
A total of 110 bird flu cases have been reported in Germany, all but three on them on Ruegen. There were six new cases on Thursday, including one on the mainland.
Officials said the outbreak appeared to be moving west, after a breed of heron was found with the disease in a remote part of the state of Mecklenberg-West Pomerania.
The issue of vaccinations in areas where the dead birds had been found was under discussion by Seehofer and his regional counterparts at a meeting in Berlin on Thursday afternoon.
The Netherlands and France were granted permission by the European Commission on Wednesday to protect their industries by vaccinating large numbers of domestic poultry threatened with bird flu.
The virus, which has claimed the lives of at least 90 people since it was first detected in South-East Asia in mid-2003, is thought to have been brought to Europe by migrating birds.
Health and agriculture officials have warned the public not to touch any dead animals because of the risk of infection to humans.
Subject: German news