H5N1 hits turkeys in Poland; stores sold tainted meat

Dec 3, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Veterinary officials in Poland today said H5N1 avian influenza has struck two turkey farms, the country's first reported outbreak in domestic birds, amid reports that meat contaminated with the virus was sold to consumers.

The farms are located near the town of Plock, in eastern Poland, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Plock is about 60 miles northwest of Warsaw. The outbreaks, which began on Nov 30, killed 60 birds on one farm and 300 on the other. A total of 4,245 remaining birds were culled on the two farms, the OIE report said.

Samples were sent to the National Veterinary Research Institute in Pulawy, Poland, where they were confirmed as positive for H5N1 on Dec 1.

Poland last found H5N1 in birds in the spring of 2006, when it was detected in wild swans and other waterfowl, according to earlier OIE reports.

With the latest outbreak, Poland becomes the eighth European country to report an H5N1 outbreak this year. In October, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that apparently healthy ducks and geese in Europe could be harboring the H5N1 virus.

Prime minister Donald Tusk, speaking with reporters 2 days ago, said there was "no reason to panic," according to an Associated Press report.

In related developments, a spokeswoman for the Sanitary Inspectorate in Poland's Pomorze region, said today that two warehouses distributed about 1,060 pounds of H5N1-tainted turkey meat to area retail outlets, Polskie Radio news reported on its Web site today. The Pomorze region is in northern Poland near the border with Germany.

Anna Obuchowska, the spokeswoman, told Polskie Radio that authorities were trying to track down the remaining meat in food shops, but said most of it was probably already in consumers' homes, because it had been delivered to stores at the beginning of the previous week.

Health officials are monitoring the health of store employees, the news report said.

Elsewhere, animal-health officials in Bangladesh reported more H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in the northwestern part of the country, according to a Dec 1 report from Reuters.

The latest outbreak struck a village in Pabna district, about 100 miles from Dhaka, the capital, an official from the fisheries and livestock ministry told Reuters. Workers culled 6,000 chickens and destroyed more than 2,500 eggs to stamp out the outbreak, the report said.

Twenty of Bangladesh's 64 districts have now reported H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, the Reuters report said.

See also:

OIE reports on 2007 outbreaks in Poland

Oct 25 FAO report on H5N1 threat to Europe

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