Deadly H5N1 avian flu virus confirmed in Romania

Oct 17, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The lethal avian flu virus that's prompting concerns about a human pandemic has officially been found in Romania, authorities confirmed over the weekend.

A British laboratory testing the Romanian samples found H5N1 in three birds that had been found dead in the Danube delta, according to Reuters news service on Oct 15.

Six counties in the southeastern part of the delta, which hosts hundreds of species of birds, were cordoned off. Vehicles departing the area were disinfected, and area residents were given antiviral drugs. More than 60,000 birds were to be culled in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile in Turkey, where the virus was identified last week, authorities released nine people from the hospital after tests showed they did not have avian flu.

Roughly 1,000 chickens died after being transported from the northwestern area of Turkey where H5N1 has been found to Agri Province, near the Iranian border. Initial tests on these birds were negative for the H5N1 virus, according to Reuters, but final results aren't expected for 5 or 6 days.

On the heels of Europe's discovery that H5N1 had breached its borders, Southeast Asian officials urged the global community to keep Asia a priority in the fight against avian flu, Reuters reported.

"There's a lot of anxiety (in Europe)," said Peter Cordingly, spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Manila. "Quite clearly, the result of this could be that governments might focus on domestic preparedness and forget the fact that ground zero is Southeast Asia."

The WHO is now asking for US $260 million from the international community to fight avian flu, Reuters reported. Only about $20 million has been pledged.

"While we are concerned that the money shouldn't get diverted into Europe, we're pretty confident we're going to get the money we want," Cordingly said.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt spent last week touring Southeast Asia and committed several million dollars in aid to Laos and Vietnam. He emphasized the importance of global preparedness.

"No nation can avoid preparing for the possibility of the pandemic, whether it be caused by the H5N1 virus or by another one," Leavitt said in a speech in Hanoi that was quoted Oct 14 by Agence France-Presse. "It is safe to say no one is adequately prepared and we all have work to do."

See also:

Most recent details on H5N1 from World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)

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