Swan proves bird flu positive in Croatia

A swan that flew into Croatia from neighboring Hungary carried the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday. The swan, shot down last week in the area where eight swans had already tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain, was ringed in Hungary, but ornithologists there insisted the bird was healthy when marked. Hungary has reported no bird flu cases.

Croatian experts informed Hungarian authorities about their test findings, ministry spokesman Mladen Pavic said.

Hungary's Agriculture Ministry said it was not planning to increase the number of tests on birds nor introduce new preventive measures beyond those already in place.

Tests on about 1,000 wild and domestic birds have been negative for bird flu and the country plans to tests about 10,000 more by the end of the year, it said.

Last week, six swans found dead in a nature park of Zdenci in eastern Croatia on Oct. 21 tested positive for H5N1, as well as two others, found dead later in an adjacent pond, the AP reminds.

Croatian authorities believe all the swans belonged to the same flock, which came from Hungary.

The region has already been disinfected and all domestic poultry there culled.

The strain _ closely watched by experts for fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted to people and therefore causing pandemic _ has also appeared in Romania, Turkey and Russia.

Bird flu has decimated poultry in Asia and has killed at least 62 people there since 2003, most of whom regularly handled poultry.

Croatian veterinary experts have so far tested about 1,500 birds found dead across the country, and none had been sick with the bird flu, the ministry said.


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