More birds must be kept indoors, German officials says

German officials on Tuesday increased the number of areas where domestic fowl must be kept indoors in an effort to prevent contact with migrating birds possibly carrying the bird flu virus.

Following a meeting between federal and state agricultural officials, several new German states said they would require farmers to keep domestic birds inside in areas that are considered to be at risk for contact with migrating wild fowl.

Officials from Schleswig-Holstein in the north said they would require birds in certain areas to be kept indoors starting Wednesday.

The H5N1 bird flu strain has swept poultry populations in large swathes of Asia since 2003, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of birds, the AP reports.

There is no human vaccine for the current strain of bird flu, but scientists believe the Tamiflu drug may help protect humans from catching bird flu.

Bird flu's westward move is caused by migrating wild fowl. It has intensified fears in Europe the virus may mutate into one that can be easily transmitted among humans - a development that experts fear could cause a global epidemic and put millions of lives at risk. A.M.

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