First Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Bulgaria in Days - Minister

Politics | February 13, 2006, Monday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
First Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Bulgaria in Days - Minister Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister Nihat Kabil warned the country would see its first bird flu outbreak days after detecting the lethal H5N1 strain.Photo by Nadya Kotseva (Sofia News Agency)

Bulgaria's agriculture minister warned the country would see its first bird flu outbreak days after detecting the lethal H5N1 strain that can kill humans.

"We should get used to the thought that in the coming days we might have the first outbreak of bird flu, even though birds' death rates across the country are not extremely high," Agriculture Minister Nihat Kabil said on Monday.

Minister Kabil said it is highly probable that samples from dead swans collected at the dams of Tsonevo and Durankulak test positive for H5N1. The samples will be sent to Weybridge laboratory on Tuesday.

The dams are among the four geographical spots in Bulgaria, where samples from dead bird have tested positive for H5. The other two are located near the river Danube and the Black Sea town of Burgas.

On Saturday, the EU confirmed that a dead swan found at Bulgaria's Danube riverside carried H5N1. The highly pathogenic strain of bird flu can be dangerous to humans as well as birds.

Its spreading westwards - from the original location in Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa - has raised concerns that the virus could mutate to a form of human-to-human contamination.

Bulgarian veterinarians' biggest concern now is that domestic poultry may come into contact with migratory birds, which are expected to leave the country no earlier than April.

Meanwhile, two people were quarantined in Greece over fears of possible bird flu infection.

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