EU helps Turkey investigate bird flu outbreak

A two-member European Union team arrived in western Turkey on Monday to help investigate an outbreak of bird flu in a western village that killed some 1,800 turkeys. Veterinarians from Turkey's Agriculture Ministry said that nearly 10,000 birds had been culled in the village of Kiziksa following a mandatory order to deliver them for destruction and that the outbreak of bird flu had been contained. Officials also said that the incubation period for the bird flu detected in Kiziksa already had passed and there was no danger that the virus detected there could spread.

Authorities are on alert across Turkey, however, and have warned that migratory birds could still spread the flu elsewhere.

The EU delegation is expected to meet with Turkish officials on Monday and visit Kiziksa on Tuesday.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Sunday that the EU will not hesitate to propose "drastic measures" to fight the spread of bird flu if current safeguards prove insufficient.

Bird flu has been found in Romania and Turkey, and the EU has banned all poultry imports from those countries. It also recommended that member states increase biosecurity measures on farms and called an emergency meeting of EU veterinary experts for Thursday to assess developments.

The virus found on a farm in Kiziksa, some 120 kilometers (80 miles) from Istanbul, was the deadly H5N1 strain that has decimated flocks in Asia and killed dozens of people there. Authorities around the world fear it could mutate into a deadly form of flu that can be passed among people, leading to a pandemic which some say could potentially kill millions.

Although H5N1 is highly contagious among birds, it is difficult for humans to contract. Still, it has killed about 60 people in Asia, mostly poultry farmers infected directly by birds, reports the AP. I.L.

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