Romania Reports Fresh Bird
Romania became the seventh country in Europe reporting fresh bird flu outbreaks this year, a month after a United Nations agency said the lethal H5N1 strain may be more prevalent in the region than previously thought.
The H5N1 virus killed 31 poultry on a farm in eastern Romania two days ago, the national veterinary and food safety authority in Bucharest said in a report yesterday to the World Organization for Animal Health. An additional 49 birds were destroyed to control the outbreak on the farm in Tulcea, near the border with Ukraine, the report said.
The source of infection can't yet be confirmed, Stefan Nicolae, the authority's director general, said in the report. The most recent of Romania's previous 162 avian influenza outbreaks ended in July 2006.
More than 300 million chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys in 60 countries have died from the virus or been killed to prevent its spread. The disease in birds creates opportunity for human infection and increases the risk of the virus changing into a deadly pandemic form that spreads easily between humans.
Avian flu has infected 335 people in a dozen countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East since 2003. Three of every five cases were fatal and most were caused by contact with infected poultry, such as children playing with them or adults butchering them or plucking feathers, according to the World Health Organization.
The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Russia and the U.K. are the other European countries that have reported new outbreaks this year, according to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.
Discovery of the virus in healthy ducks and geese in Germany three months ago may be a sign that domestic animals are harboring the infection without getting sick, increasing the threat to human health, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said on Oct. 25.
The spread of the disease by birds that don't succumb to it has led to entrenched infection in nations including Indonesia, the country with the most human H5N1 cases, and is thwarting efforts to eradicate the virus, the FAO said. Europe's Black Sea area, where chicken and waterfowl populations are similar to those in Asia, may become a reservoir for H5N1 because birds migrating from Siberia spend the winter there, it said.