Hungary becomes 7th EU nation with bird flu

Tests confirmed H5N1 in three birds found dead in Hungary, making the country the seventh EU nation with an outbreak of the deadly strain of bird flu, officials said Tuesday.

Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, France and Slovenia also have reported H5N1 in wild birds. So far, no EU nations have reported bird flu in commercial stocks or in humans.

But veterinary experts were meeting Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss how to keep bird flu from infecting domestic fowl as the lethal virus spreads across Europe.

Nations are under EU orders to keep poultry indoors to prevent them from catching the flu from migratory birds.

Some countries, including France, Italy and the Netherlands, are pushing for flu vaccines for domestic poultry as well. But others, including Britain, say vaccinations are costly and difficult, and provide no guarantee of immunity since the drugs only ward against the flu in general, not H5N1.

H5N1 has devastated poultry stocks and killed at least 92 people, mostly in Asia, since 2003, according to the World Health Organization.

In India, health workers were wrapping up a massive slaughter of chickens Tuesday.

Most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds. But scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted between humans, sparking a human flu pandemic.

Germany reported 22 more cases of bird flu on the northern island of Ruegen, raising its total to 103.

Results from an EU reference laboratory in Britain confirmed that three dead swans found in Hungary were infected with H5N1, government spokesman Andras Batiz said in a statement. The European Commission confirmed the findings, reports the AP.


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