Bird flu looms up in Germany - dead wild fowl found

Veterinarians are to examine more than a dozen wild fowl found dead at a lake in western Germany for bird flu, state health officials told.

Between 15 to 25 wild geese and ducks were found dead Monday afternoon in a lake used by migratory birds near Neuwied in Rhineland-Palatinate state, said Stefanie Mittenzwei, a spokeswoman for state health officials in Koblenz.

Mittenzwei said veterinarians were conducting tests on the birds to determine the cause of death.

Results indicating whether the birds carried a virus were expected later Tuesday. But tests to determine whether the birds had the feared H5N1 bird flu strain would not be finished until later this week.

Three other dead geese were found in a lake near Goettingen, in the state of Lower Saxony. The birds appeared to have been too weak to continue migrating, but would be tested for bird flu nonetheless.

The suspected cases in Germany, if confirmed, would be the country's first. Birds in EU members Greece and Sweden have tested positive for bird flu, but not the deadly H5N1 strain, which has been found among birds in Romania, Turkey and Russia.

H5N1 is difficult for people to contract, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily passed between humans and spark a pandemic, the AP reports.


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