The sight of dead swans and geese tested in a German lab Tuesday raised fears bird flu had reached the heart of the European Union, and EU legislators warned the 25 member states to quickly draw up emergency plans to prepare for a possible flu pandemic.
In western Germany, veterinarians were testing more than a dozen wild fowl found dead at a lake. The tests to determine whether the birds had the H5N1 bird flu strain would not be finished until later this week, officials said, and urged the public not to panic.
With suspect bird cadavers turning up within 300 kilometers of the headquarters in Brussels, EU officials prepared more emergency measures Tuesday to stop the spread of the virus in Europe, including an EU-wide ban on the import of exotic birds and stricter rules on the private ownership of parrots and other pet birds.
The move was being considered after a parrot, imported from Suriname, died in quarantine in Britain over the weekend after contracting the H5N1 flu strain. The bird was thought to have been infected by other birds in quarantine.
The strain has also been reported in Romania, Turkey and Russia, and tests were being conducted on birds from Croatia.
Croatian authorities on Tuesday were slaughtering poultry in four eastern villages near a pond where bird flu was detected in a flock of dead swans.