Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Turkey asks for 500,000 boxes of antiviral drug as precaution against bird flu pandemic

Turkey has asked Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holding AG to provide 500,000 boxes of a drug that experts believe can treat human cases of bird flu as a precaution against a possible pandemic, an official said Thursday.

The Health Ministry requested that 300,000 of the boxes of the antiviral oseltamivir, known commercially as Tamiflu, be sent as soon as possible, ministry official Turan Buzgan told the Anatolia news agency.

"A letter of intent ... has been sent so that a fixed amount of the anti-viral drug is kept in Turkey," Buzgan said.

Turkey has quarantined a three-kilometer (two-mile) zone near a village in western Turkey and culled some 7,600 birds after preliminary tests detected bird flu in a flock of turkeys last week.

Scientists in Turkey have narrowed the disease down to an H5 type virus, but have not determined if it is the H5N1 strain that health officials are particularly worried about.

Buzgan said there were sufficient amounts of the drug in Turkey but said Turkey had requested more as a precaution.

He asked the public not to panic and said only people who had been in direct contact with fowl should take the drug.

"No one should panic, there is a sufficient amount of the medicine in Turkey," Buzgan said.

Buzgan said eight poultry farm workers were being closely monitored for flu and were given the drug, reports the AP.