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Romania culls poultry as EU braces for bird flu
Updated: 2005-10-16 20:04


Six counties in southeastern Romania have been cordoned off and vehicles leaving the area are being disinfected at checkpoints. Poultry and pigs have been put indoors, transport of live animals from the counties forbidden and fairs selling animals closed across the country, officials said.

"We acted in accordance with European Union decisions," said Gabriel Predoi of the country's veterinary authority.

The European Commission asked governments on Friday to pinpoint areas most at risk and to keep poultry separate from wild birds, which carry the virus. EU veterinary experts will meet on Thursday to review the situation.

Romania culls poultry as EU braces for bird flu
Microscopic view of the H5N1 virus. A British laboratory that tested a sample of a bird flu virus found in Romania confirmed that it is the the H5N1 strain that has killed more than 60 people in Asia. [AFP/File]
Romanian media said up to two million vaccine doses for regular flu had been sold in the past few days, even though it protects people only against the latest strain of human flu.

"We exhausted all the flu vaccines in stock," said Margareta Dumitrescu, a pharmacist in downtown Bucharest.

Bulgaria, sandwiched between Romania and Turkey, said it would set up a bird flu crisis headquarters on Monday.

Bulgaria has stepped up border controls and increased surveillance over poultry farms along the Danube and Black Sea, chief veterinarian Zheko Baichev told Reuters.

"We have made 500 blood tests on farm birds and checked on 154 domestic and 100 wild birds found dead throughout the country. We have not isolated the bird flu virus," he said.

Two EU bird flu experts will arrive in Bulgaria on Monday to help with preventive measures, Baichev said.

The H5N1 strain first emerged in Hong Kong in 1997, causing the death or destruction of 1.5 million birds and sickening 18 people, killing six.

It re-emerged in 2003 in South Korea, and has now spread to China, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Turkey and Romania.

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