Avian flu hits birds in Iran, spreads in Europe

Feb 16, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Iran, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia have joined the list of countries with H5N1 avian influenza in wild birds in the past few days, and the virus may have spread to as many as nine states in Nigeria, according to recent reports.

Iran told the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Feb 14 that the virus had killed 153 wild swans in a wetland area called Anzali, according to a report posted on the OIE Web site. Samples tested positive in an Italian laboratory, the report said.

The daily European reports of outbreaks in wild birds have nearly all involved swans. The latest country affected is Slovenia, which today confirmed the virus in a wild swan found last week near the Austrian border, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.

Yesterday Austria said two dead swans were found to be infected with H5N1, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. However, a European Union(EU) statement today described the Slovenian and Austrian cases as suspected.

In Germany, the virus was confirmed yesterday in two swans and a hawk found dead on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, according to a Reuters report published today. The Germany agriculture ministry said today that nine more swans and a goose had tested positive, Reuters reported. The story said those birds were found in the same northeastern state where the earlier ones were found (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), but it didn't mention if they were on the same island.

Hungarian officials have identified an H5 virus in three swans found dead in the southern county of Bacs-Kiskun, according to an EU statement. Samples from the birds were being sent to the EU reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, for further testing.

In Nigeria, which last week became the first African country to report being hit by H5N1, three states have confirmed the virus among poultry and five other states suspect it, according to an AP report published yesterday.

A veterinary official in Nigeria's Kano state said a ninth state, Jigawa, has joined the list of those with suspected cases, AFP reported today. The official said about 90% of the poultry in three villages in the state had died in the past week.

Tens of thousands of birds have been sacrificed since H5N1 was found in poultry in the northern state of Kaduna 8 days ago, AFP reported.

Another AFP story today said a poultry outbreak of H5N1 has been found in the Russian province of Dagestan, near the Caspian Sea. The report described the outbreak as the first H5N1 appearance in the "impoverished and unstable" Russian Caucasus region.

The full list of European countries affected so far by H5N1 in birds includes Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine, and European Russia, according to AFP.

See also:

EU statement on suspected avian flu in Hungary

Iran's initial notification to OIE
http://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/Iran_AI_15_02_2006.pdf

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