Romanian authorities detect new cases of bird flu

Two villages in southeast Romania were quarantined Wednesday after poultry there tested positive for an H5-subtype of bird flu, the Agriculture Ministry confirmed Wednesday.

Authorities have begun culling birds in Dudesti and Ciresu, which are located next to villages where the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus has been confirmed. Specialists are also testing dogs, cats and pigs in the households where the sick birds were found, the ministry said in a statement.

The H5N1 variant of bird flu is being tracked worldwide out of fear that it could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted between humans.

Since 2003, the strain of bird flu has ravaged flocks of birds in Asia and killed at least 78 people there - most of them farm workers in close contact with birds.

Birds in Turkey, Romania, Russia and Croatia have tested positive for H5N1.

Preliminary tests indicate the deadly H5N1 flu strain has infected 15 people in Turkey, including two children who have died in recent days.

In Romania, the virus was first reported in October in two villages in the Danube Delta, where it is believed to have been brought by migratory birds. Since then, the virus spread westward infecting poultry in another five villages and has recently been detected just 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Bucharest. No human cases of bird flu have been reported in Romania.

Romanian authorities have killed 55,000 domestic birds in efforts to stop the virus from spreading, the AP reports.


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