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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 October 2005, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Romania continuing bird flu cull
Romanian health workers throw bags of dead domestic birds into a pit in Ceamurlia de Jos
Romania has introduced tough measures to eradicate the flu
Authorities in Romania are continuing to kill thousands of birds after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed in the Delta region.

The cull has been extended to the village of Maliuc, after all 17,000 domestic birds in nearby Ceamurlia de Jos were put down by Friday.

Romania has introduced other sweeping measures, including placing the affected region under quarantine.

Twenty thousand people have so far been inoculated with a flu vaccine.

"The only thing to contain the disease is to act very strongly... in the outbreak," said a government spokesman.

Tests confirmed that the Romanian virus was the same lethal strain which struck in Asia, killing more than 60 people.

The H5N1 strain has also caused heavy losses of livestock in south-east Asia since 2003.

Although its human victims contracted the disease from contact with birds, there are fears a mutant form of the virus may start passing between humans.

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The World Health Organization has warned that millions could die in a global pandemic if this happens.

Villagers co-operating

Cases of bird flu were reported in two villages in eastern Romania earlier this month.

As well as all domestic birds in Ceamurlia de Jos, the first village affected, the culling of more than 30,000 more in eight neighbouring villages has begun.

"We are killing all domestic birds there, burying them. We inoculate all the population in those villages. We have imposed strict measures for consumption of bird meat," agriculture ministry spokesman Adrian Tibu told the BBC.

H5N1 BIRD FLU VIRUS
Principally an avian disease, first seen in humans in Hong Kong, 1997
Almost all human cases thought to be contracted from birds
Isolated cases of human-to-human transmission in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but none confirmed

"You can't contain this thing well enough if you're talking about migratory birds," Mr Tibu told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

Maliuc is about 60km (40 miles) from Ceamurlia de Jos.

The measures are already having a devastating impact on a region where poultry are the centre of the local economy, says the BBC's Nick Thorpe in eastern Romania.

People appear dazed by what is happening, but since it was confirmed that this is the strain of the bird flu virus found in Asia, they have begun co-operating closely with officials sent to collect their birds, our correspondent says.

Turkey has already reported the discovery of the lethal strain of the virus among birds in the west of the country.

The EU has banned imports of live birds and poultry products from Romania and Turkey.

EU veterinary experts said on Friday that the bird flu outbreak did not represent a risk to the general public "at present".

The H5N1 strain remained largely in South-East Asia until this summer, when Russia and Kazakhstan both reported outbreaks
Scientists fear it may be carried by migrating birds to Europe and Africa but say it is hard to prove a direct link with bird migration




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See how Romanians are coping with the crisis




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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Washington PostBird Influenza Confirmed on Farm in Romania - 9 hrs ago
Miami HeraldRomania takes steps to prevent bird flu - 9 hrs ago
Boston GlobeRomania takes steps to prevent bird flu - 9 hrs ago
Jordan Times Gov't allocates JD10 million to tackle possible outbreak of bird flu - 10 hrs ago
MSNBC Romania kills thousands of birds amid flu fears - 11 hrs ago
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