Tests confirm more wild birds infected with H5N1 virus in Germany

Tests confirmed 10 more birds found dead on a northern German island had the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain, the federal animal health institute said Friday. Three other cases were confirmed the day before.

In expanded testing of wild birds found dead on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, three swans, six whooper swans and a goose have tested positive for the disease, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute said.

Two swans and one hawk were found to be infected earlier this week, the country's first confirmed cases of the disease.

Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer called on state officials to be rigorous in enforcing measures that took effect Friday, requiring all domestic birds to be kept indoors to prevent contact with migrating wild fowl.

Seehofer is to travel to Brussels early next week to discuss further measures that could be taken to stem the spread of the disease within the European Union, where outbreaks have occurred in Austria, Greece, Italy and Slovenia.

"Bird flu can only be fought on an international level," Seehofer said.

One of the latest birds to test positive for the disease carried a ring that was attached last year in Latvia, the institute said.

That, in addition to establishing that another of the infected birds died of a sub-strain of H5N1 that was first detected last year in China, may indicate that the disease is spreading from east to west, rather than from north to south, Seehofer said, reports the AP.

I.L.

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