Authorities ban hunting in Romania

Authorities Friday banned hunting in an eastern county of Romania after birds in three villages tested positive for the H5 subtype of bird flu. Authorities in the Braila county will also continue to monitor wild birds in the county, the Agriculture Ministry said. Thousands of domestic fowl are being killed. Further tests in a laboratory in Britain will determine whether the virus found is the deadly H5N1 strain, which is being monitored for fear it could mutate into a form that is easily transferable among humans, the statement said.

Preliminary tests on Thursday detected the H5 virus in the villages of Bumbacari and Dudescu. Samples from the villages have been sent to Bucharest to confirm the local laboratory's diagnosis. On Sunday, in the nearby village of Scarlatesti, a turkey tested positive for H5, prompting authorities to impose a quarantine and kill 15,000 domestic birds Sunday and Monday. All three villages are in Braila county. A further 600 domestic birds will be culled in Bumbacari, and 5,400 in Dudescu, local officials said Thursday. Meat, sugar and oil were sent to local residents to help them cope with the loss.

Romania has already confirmed H5N1 in the delta villages of Ceamurlia de Jos, Maliuc and Caraorman. The virus is believed to have been brought by migratory birds that have arrived in the delta, a large wetland reservation, from Russia, reports the AP. I.L.

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