EU declares avian flu 'a global threat'

Swan discovered with bird flu antibodies in Romania; Greece bans exports.

killing chicken 88 (photo credit: )
killing chicken 88
(photo credit: )
EU foreign ministers on Tuesday declared the spread of bird flu from Asia into Europe a "global threat" requiring broad international cooperation to contain. The ministers were to issue a statement at a special meeting, saying they recognize bird flu poses a serious, global health threat if it shifts from birds to humans and one "that requires a coordinated international reaction." The declaration came hours after a swan was discovered with bird flu antibodies near the Ukrainian border, Romanian agriculture minister said Tuesday. Gheorghe Flutur said that the bird from the village of CA Rosetti, in the Danube Delta some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Ukraine, had tested positive at a laboratory in Bucharest. Flutur also said several swans and a wild duck had also been discovered with antibodies in the villages of Ceamurlia de Jos and Maliuc, two localities where the bird flu has already been detected. Officials confirmed Saturday that the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain had been detected in Ceamurlia de Jos. Meanwhile, Greece has banned the export of live birds, poultry meat and products from Aegean Sea islands neighboring an islet where the country's first bird flu case was detected, officials said Tuesday. The preventive measure was taken in cooperation with EU officials, Agriculture Minister Evangelos Bassiakos said. The ban will apply to Oinouses, Chios and Psara. On Monday, Greek authorities confirmed a case of bird flu on a turkey farm in Oinouses. The Health Ministry announced that a team of inspectors would examine workers for flu symptoms Tuesday at the small, family-ran farm at Oinouses - a tiny islet close to the Turkish coast with a population of 700. Farm works will be under observation for the next week, the ministry said. Further samples from turkeys at the Oinouses farm were sent for testing at an EU-approved national reference laboratory in Thessaloniki late Monday. The first results are expected around midday Tuesday, while scientists will know in a week whether the flu detected in the original sample belongs to the deadly H5N1 strain. "What we have now is an indication (of the flu)," state veterinarian Giorgos Georgiadis said. "We will next seek flu antibodies, and if the flu virus is present then we will isolate it." The European Commission said Monday that Greece is sending samples from birds on Oinouses to the EU's laboratory in Weybridge, England.