Romania culls poultry as EU braces for bird flu
Updated: 2005-10-16 20:04
Romanian authorities slaughtered more domestic fowl on Sunday after the
deadly strain of bird flu was detected in the Danube delta, as officials
elsewhere in Europe prepared for a possible pandemic.
British laboratory tests confirmed on Saturday that the H5N1 strain of the
disease had reached mainland Europe for the first time, after it was identified
in three ducks found dead in the Romanian Danube delta village of Ceamurlia de
Experts fear the H5N1 virus, which has killed more than 60 people and caused
the death of millions of birds in Asia since 2003, could mutate and spread
easily among humans, creating a pandemic that might kill tens of millions.
Romanian Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said the outbreak was limited
to Ceamurlia and Maliuc, 40 km (25 miles) north. All 18,000 domestic birds in
Ceamurlia were killed and culling of Maliuc's less than 3,000 poultry was under
"On a 10-kilometre (six-mile) radius around Ceamurlia de Jos, the tests (for
bird flu) are negative," Flutur told reporters.
The Danube delta, Europe's largest wetlands near the Black Sea, is a major
way station for migratory wild birds coming from Russia, Scandinavia, Poland and
Germany and heading for warmer North Africa, including the Nile delta, for
Romanian assurances, Britain's chief medical officer said on Sunday his country
was braced for a pandemic of bird flu that could result in at least 50,000
A Romanian health worker sprays dissinfectant
in the village of Vulturul, 300km (186 miles) east of Bucharest, Romania
Saturday Oct. 15, 2005. [AP]
The official, Liam Donaldson, echoed previous warnings by saying history
suggested the bird flu virus could combine with a human flu virus and become
"Once in a while, every 10 to 40 years, the flu virus mutates into a strain
which we haven't got natural immunity to," he told BBC TV. He said a normal
winter flu kills more than 12,000 people in Britain.
"If we had a (bird flu) pandemic the problem would be the existing vaccines
don't work, we would need a new vaccine and people don't have natural immunity,"
"So the estimate we are working toward is around 50,000 excess deaths from
flu, but it could be a lot higher than that -- it depends on whether the strain
is mild or serious."
No human cases of bird flu have so far been reported from either Romania or
Turkey, where H5N1 was also identified in birds last week.
A Turkish Health Ministry official said on Saturday that nine people under
observation in hospital for possible bird flu had been allowed to go home as
tests showed they were not infected.