No flu found in Bulgarian dead birds

Bulgarian health officials has tested around 30 birds found dead around the country for avian flu but found no cases as it tightens controls after suspected outbreaks in its Black Sea neighbors, officials said on Thursday.

Sandwiched between Romania and Turkey, which both discovered cases of the flu in birds last week, it has stepped up checks at borders and poultry farms near its coastal and Danube River wetlands to forestall a similar outbreak.

Nadia Oreshkova, head of the testing laboratory at Bulgaria's national veterinary service, said her office had tested a range of birds doves, ducks, quail, crows, starlings and others without discovering any cases of the virus.

"Since the news broke for Romania, we have been receiving all kinds of birds from all over the country," she told Reuters. "We have received more than 30 wild birds and so far we have not isolated any cases of the avian flu virus."

On Thursday, four dead birds were found in northern Bulgaria near the Danube river frontier with Romania.

Three others were discovered in different sites in the same region on Wednesday. Tests did not reveal any immediate signs of the virus but final results are expected in around a week.

The customs office also said it had seized 255 kg of contraband duck meat at its border with Turkey on Thursday, three days after banning imports of live birds, feathers, eggs and poultry from there and Romania, reports Reuters.

But the EU said then it planned to extend until next April its ban on imports of live birds and feathers from Turkey, where an outbreak of avian influenza was discovered at the weekend at a farm near the Aegean and Marmara seas.

Test results due on Friday were expected to show whether Turkey has a low-risk strain or the H5N1 virus, which has killed or forced the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia and killed more than 60 people.

"All the virological tests carried out to date in Romania have failed to identify the presence of the avian influenza virus. Every day that passes ... reassures us that avian influenza is not in fact present in Romania," EU Commission spokesman Philip Tod told reporters, Reuters reported.

"We hope in light of that report ... to conclude ... that avian influenza is not present in Romania," he added.

Experts fear that the virus, known to pass to humans from birds, could mutate and start to spread easily from person to person, potentially killing millions around the world, informs CNN.


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