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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Bird flu found in German poultry
Dead swan on Ruegen Island, Germany
Germany's first cases of bird flu were detected in wild birds
The deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus has been detected in domestic poultry in Germany for the first time, the government says.

A special protection zone has been drawn around a poultry farm near Leipzig in the eastern state of Saxony, a spokesman says.

Orders have been given to slaughter about 10,000 animals at the farm.

The H5N1 strain, which can prove fatal to humans, was first detected in Germany in February in wild birds.

It was also found in dead cats - the first cases in the European Union of mammals to die of the deadly strain.

Mutation fear

The cull at the farm of its entire flock of geese, turkeys and chickens was ordered after 20 birds were found dead earlier this week.

Map of Germany showing location of Leipzig

It is the second confirmed case of H5N1 in domestic fowl in the EU after a case in France in late February.

Experts fear the virus could combine or mutate into a form that passes easily between humans, possibly sparking a pandemic, but there is no evidence of such transmission yet.

More than 100 people around the world have died from the disease since 2003.

The vast majority of the deaths have been in Asia, but cases in people and birds have also been recorded in Europe and Africa.


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