Avian flu reported in Romania, Turkey

Dec 30, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – New outbreaks of avian influenza in birds were reported this week in Romania and Turkey, but wild birds that died mysteriously in Malawi in southern Africa were found to be free of flu viruses.

Tests in Britain detected H5N1 viruses in seven samples sent from four areas in southeastern Romania, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report published yesterday. The story did not specify what kinds of birds were involved.

Authorities had ordered the precautionary culling of birds in the affected areas after initial tests pointed to an H5 virus, AFP reported.

With the latest findings, the deadly virus has been detected in 22 Romanian localities since early October, the story said. More than 100,000 poultry and other birds have been slaughtered to contain the disease since then.

In Turkey, poultry in the eastern province of Igdir, near the Armenian border, tested positive for an H5 virus, but it was not yet known whether it was the deadly H5N1 strain, according to a Dec 27 AFP report.

About 1,200 birds died in the area in mid-December, and another 350 were culled as a precaution, the story said. An agricultural official said samples from the latest outbreak had been sent to Britain for testing.

If confirmed, the latest finding would represent Turkey's second outbreak of H5N1, according to the story. The first one was discovered Oct 5 on a turkey farm in Balikesir province in western Turkey.

In Malawi, the government said tests in South Africa found no avian flu virus in samples from migratory birds that died mysteriously about 2 weeks ago, according to a report published by the Chinese news service Xinhua and carried by ProMED-mail.

Thousands of birds called fork-tailed drongos had died on a hill in the central district of Ntchisi, the story said. The tested samples showed "no presence of avian influenza," said Ben Chimera, chair of the country's Avian Influenza Technical Committee.

Chimera said the cause of the birds' death remained unknown, but he added that they might have died because of heavy rains in the area.

In other developments, another suspected human case of avian flu was reported in Indonesia today, according to an AFP story carried by the Jakarta Post.

A local health official was quoted as saying a 48-year-old man died 10 hours after he was admitted to a hospital in the central Java town of Magelang with a high fever and respiratory problems.

Blood samples were sent to Jakarta for testing, and samples would also be sent to Hong Kong for tests, the story said.

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