Israeli, Jordanian vets discuss bird flu

Hotline set up between nations' veterinary services in case of outbreak.

bird flu 88 (photo credit: )
bird flu 88
(photo credit: )
A day after Health Minister Dani Naveh said that Israel was unlikely to escape an outbreak of avian flu, officials from the Israeli and Jordanian veterinary services met on Thursday at the Allenby Bridge border crossing to discuss ways to combat a possible outbreak of the disease in the region. "The meeting was very good. Each side presented its plan; we will study their plan, they will study our plan and we will meet again within two weeks to discuss practical measures," Dr. Moshe Haimovitch, head of Agriculture Ministry's veterinary service, told Israel Radio. According to Haimovitch, "If anything happens prior to our next meeting, we will update each other by phone, using a special hotline we have set up." Officials from Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority did not attend the meeting. Haimovitch said that the Jordanians are in contact with their neighbors, so in a way, he noted, there is an indirect regional cooperation. "I hope [the regional cooperation] would further develop," he said. Meanwhile, Europe's top health officials were to meet Thursday to discuss how to prevent bird flu from jumping to humans on the continent and plan how to handle it if it does. The European Union health ministers' gathering at a hotel north of London comes amid fears that the virus may be spreading further into Europe. Bird flu cases have been reported in poultry in Romania and Greece. Russia fears it could also have spread to the European side of the Urals and samples from Macedonia are being tested for the disease. Health officials fear that if avian flu in birds mutates into a form which is easily spread from person to person, it could explode into a pandemic. In Asia, a 48-year-old man who died after eating his neighbor's sick chickens had bird flu, making him the 13th person confirmed to have died from the disease in Thailand, the prime minister said Thursday. Initially, authorities said the man, who died Wednesday, had tested negative for the virus. But on Thursday, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said new lab results confirmed the bird flu diagnosis.