Greece finds H5 flu virus on island

Oct 17, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – A sample taken from a turkey on a remote Greek island contained an H5 virus, Reuters news service reported this afternoon.

The specific strain has not yet been identified, and the sample was sent for further testing, Greek authorities said.

Meanwhile in Greece, people are taking precautions as if the turkey carried H5N1, the deadly strain of avian flu that has killed at least 60 people in Southeast Asia. No poultry or eggs are allowed to leave the island of Chios, local prefect Polidoras Lambrinoudis told Reuters. The H5-positive sample came from one live turkey out of nine tested in a flock of 20 birds. The entire flock will be culled, and the farmer and his family will be examined for signs of infection. Local officials have agreed to temporarily ban the movement of live poultry and products from Chios.

The farmer, Dmitris Komninoudis, said he first thought the dead turkeys on his property were victims of stray dogs, Reuters reported.

"The next day I found some more so I decided to call a vet, who then took samples from living birds as well," Komninoudis said. "I do not sell the birds. I grow them for my family."

Greek authorities were also testing "dozens" of other dead birds found in the northeastern Evros delta, Reuters reported.

Migratory birds are frequently implicated in the spread of avian flu to Europe. The Evros delta, like Chios and the Danube delta area of Romania recently confirmed to haveH5N1, are stops in migratory bird routes. The Danube delta is Europe's biggest stopover for birds migrating from north of Romania into Africa. The farm in northwestern Turkey where a confirmed H5N1 outbreak occurred isn't far from one of Turkey's largest bird sanctuaries. Many of the migratory birds also stop there from Russia, which has had H5N1 outbreaks this year.

Croatia, which today announced it was beginning to test dead birds turned in by residents, is on a key migratory route connecting Russia and northern Europe, "where millions of birds overwinter after leaving Siberia," the United Kingdom's Times Online newspaper reports today.

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