Romania to test each flock for bird flu

Authorities will expand and speed up testing flocks across the country for bird flu, the agriculture minister said Tuesday. The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu was confirmed earlier this month in two Danube Delta villages, Ceamurlia de Jos and Maliuc. Last Friday, a heron tested positive for an H5 subtype of bird flu in eastern Romania, on the border with Moldova. Samples were sent to a lab in Britain to determine the exact strain.

In Ceamurlia de Jos, authorities on Monday eased travel restrictions on residents after killing all birds in the village and disinfecting the area. Restrictions will remain in effect in nearby Maliuc until Friday, when a final disinfection will take place, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Minister Gheorghe Flutur said testing for bird flu will focus on areas in eastern and southern Romania, adding that by the year's end, workers will have tested about 30 birds from each village in the country, the AP informs.

He said the ministry also wants to make sure all counties can test for bird flu. Currently, there are only a few labs in the country capable of analyzing samples.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy announced US$500,000 (Ђ417,000) to help train Romania's agricultural workers in identifying bird flu in both wild and domestic fowl. The funds also were to be sued to teach the public how to identify sick birds, work safely with domestic flocks and how to prevent the spread of the virus from birds to humans.

In addition, the embassy said the U.S. Agency for International Development would provide equipment and supplies to help Romania quarantine and sanitize areas where the virus has been identified.


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