Deadly bird flu strain investigated in eastern Romania

Preliminary tests indicated the H5N1 strain of bird flu has infected birds in two more villages in eastern Romania, authorities said Thursday.

The samples were taken from several dead birds found in the villages of Vlahi, near the Danube River, and Ostrov, near the border with Bulgaria, said Grigore Mertoiu, who heads the local animal health agency.

Access was limited to the villages and authorities said they would cull thousands of domestic birds.

Mertoiu said the virus was likely brought to the villages by migrating birds that were driven away from Danube wetlands that had frozen over due to a cold spell. On Sunday, the virus was detected in the village of Topraisar, also in the Black Sea region.

Mertoiu said that 2,500 birds would be culled in Vlahi later Thursday.

Danut Culet, the main government official for the county of Constanta, ordered a 10-day quarantine on the village of Topraisar, which has 30,000 domestic fowl.

Authorities began culling the domestic birds in the village late Wednesday, an operation they said would last 10 days. However, some villagers hid their fowl or tried to take them out of the village.

Topraisar Mayor Stelian Gheorghe was offering rations of bread, rice, sugar, oil and mineral water to more than 1,300 families to help offset the loss of livelihood from the dead birds, reports the AP.

I.L.