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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 14:49 GMT
Slovenia finds bird flu in swan
A swan on the Drava River near Maribor, Slovenia
The dead swan was found very close to the Austrian border
Slovenia has confirmed that a swan found dead in the north of the country had the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.

The swan was sent for testing in Italy after it was found last week near the city of Maribor, close to the Austrian border. It is Slovenia's first case.

It comes two days after Austria confirmed its first cases of bird flu.

The H5N1 strain of the virus, which can kill humans through contact with infected animals, has also been found in Italy, Germany, Greece and Bulgaria.

Slovenia's government has already set up a protection zone within a 3km (two-mile) radius of where the swan was found and a 10km surveillance zone beyond that.

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Nearly 200 birds were culled at a nearby farm and farmers across Slovenia have been ordered to keep their poultry away from wild birds and report any suspicious illness.

The Slovenian health ministry has said there "is no immediate danger for people" but has warned them to avoid contact with birds.

BIRD FLU IN EUROPE
Map showing bird flu outbreaks in Europe

Aug 2005: Avian virus reported in Siberia
Oct 2005: H5N1 kills thousands of birds in Turkey
Cases in Croatia and Romania
UK quarantines bird
Dec 2005: Ukraine cases
Jan 2006: Four people die in Turkey
Virus found in Cyprus
Feb 2006: H5N1 confirmed in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria and Slovenia

Germany, which confirmed the H5N1 in two swans found on the island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea, is bringing forward to next week a ban on keeping poultry outdoors, originally scheduled to come into effect at the beginning of March.

Sweden and Denmark have already ordered poultry to be kept indoors as a precaution.

Earlier this week the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), while urging calm, warned the virus could spread further into Europe as migrating birds return after spending the winter in Africa.

Further investigations are being carried out on three swans found in southern Hungary to see if they died from H5N1. They have tested positive for an H5 subtype of the virus.

A spokeswoman for the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds told the BBC News website it was probable the swans had shifted further westwards than normal in search of food, following particularly cold weather in countries like Ukraine.

EU veterinary experts meeting in Brussels have backed plans to increase surveillance of wild birds and stricter bans on imports - particularly of untreated feathers from all non-EU countries.

The virus can infect humans in close contact with birds. There is still no evidence that it can be passed from human to human.

BIRD-FLU OUTBREAKS AROUND THE WORLD
Map showing global confirmed bird flu cases
Confirmed H5N1 strain only
Human cases: laboratory-confirmed since Dec 2003
UK case discovered in quarantine, so disease-free status unaffected





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