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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 October 2005, 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Turkey culls birds to stem virus
Romanian health worker removes ducks for slaughter
Europe's first outbreak of bird flu has been found in Romania
Turkish authorities have slaughtered up to 2,000 poultry in a north-western province in an effort to control an outbreak of bird flu, reports say.

Officials say the outbreak, said to have killed 1,500 turkeys on a farm earlier this week, is "under control".

Tests will establish whether the strain of avian influenza found in Turkey is the much-feared H5N1 virus.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are receiving jabs in Romania in the wake of Europe's first suspected outbreak.

Tests are still continuing to determine whether the disease killed three ducks in Romania last week.

But a senior veterinary officer in Britain - which will make the definitive examination of the Romanian samples - said: "The Romanian authorities told us today [Sunday] that initial tests for avian influenza viruses are negative."

Slaughter

The Turkish authorities have quarantined a 3km (2 mile) area around the affected farm in the province of Balikesir near the Aegean Sea as a precautionary measure.

Roadblocks have been set up to check vehicles, the Associated Press reports.

"Unfortunately, we have been confronted with bird flu but everything is under control," Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said late on Saturday.

"All measures have been taken, there is no reason to be worried."

The outbreak hit the Turkish farm on Tuesday.

The region's deputy governor was quoted by a Turkish news agency as saying 1,500 birds died before the farmer reported a problem.

That figure has not been confirmed by the agriculture ministry.

A ministry statement says its officials were informed on Wednesday, and all animals there were slaughtered the following day.

Migrating birds

Initial tests are said to have identified the virus as belonging to the H5 type of flu.

But further tests will be needed to establish if it is the H5N1 strain which has killed more than 60 people in southeast Asia over the past two years.

It is feared H5N1 could mutate and become a human flu virus, which could lead to a deadly pandemic.

Experts say the virus was spread by migratory birds crossing Turkey on their way from Russia's Urals to Africa.

This summer, Siberian poultry farms reported their first cases of the virus, and in several instances, the strain was confirmed as H5N1.




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A farmer explains why he supports the decision to cull birds



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