Germany:authorities forbid poultry drinking from open water sources to protect against bird flu

German authorities on Wednesday ordered that all poultry be prevented from drinking from open water sources, including lakes, rivers or troughs, as part of efforts to stem the potential spread of bird flu from migratory wild birds.Domestic birds in Germany, which already have to be kept indoors to minimize contact with wild birds, must now only be given tap water to drink, the ministry for consumer protection said.

Authorities were testing nearly two dozen wild birds found dead in a western lake for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, after they showed signs of carrying a common strain of the virus. Preliminary tests indicated they had died from rat poisoning. Results of the new tests were expected in several days.

As an additional precautionary measure, the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania banned hunting of wild birds from Nov. 5 to Dec. 15.

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, Russia and Croatia.

A parrot imported from Suriname died in quarantine in Britain over the weekend after contracting the H5N1 strain. It was believed the bird was infected by other birds in quarantine.

H5N1 is difficult for people to contract, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily passed between humans and spark a pandemic that could kill millions of people.

The strain has devastated poultry stocks in Asia in the past two years, and killed at least 62 people, mostly poultry farmers directly infected by birds. A.M.

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