Slovene authorities meet to discuss bird flu

Slovene authorities declared the country a bird flu "risk zone" on Monday as they awaited tests to find out if a dead swan was carrying the deadly H5N1 strain. National Veterinary Administration Chief Dr. Vida Cadonic Spelic said farmers were being required to feed and provide water for their poultry indoors to reduce chance of them mixing with wild birds at outdoor water sources. She also advised people to avoid contact with birds.

National Security Council was to meet for an emergency session later in the day to discuss measures for fighting a possible bird flu outbreak. The authorities said Sunday they have detected the H5 bird flu subtype in a dead swan and tests are being conducted a European Union lab in Britain to determine whether the virus is the H5N1 strain that has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia since 2003.

Cadonic Spelic said the results are expected within a week. The H5 subtype was detected in a swan found Thursday near the city of Maribor in northern Slovenia, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Austria. Slovenia has imposed EU precautionary measures, declaring a "high risk" area within a 3 kilometers (2 miles) radius of the area where the swan died and an outer surveillance zone of 10 kilometers (6.5 miles). Authorities were also in contact with Austria.

Cadonic Spelic said authorities culled 170 chickens and 16 other birds at a farm in Sveti Primoz Nad Muto, near the Austrian border, where a veterinarian who found the swan had been working. Neighboring Croatia on Monday banned Slovenia poultry imports, a move that could seriously harm Slovenia's poultry industry, which exports heavily to Croatia and neighboring countries. It also banned poultry imports from Italy, Greece and Bulgaria, which have confirmed H5N1 cases.

The H5N1 strain has killed dozens of people in Asia, as well as in Turkey, where four children died last month of the disease. It has also been detected in birds in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Croatia, reports the AP.

N.U.