Europe panics over bird flu epidemic

A bird flu pandemic may kill up to 50,000 humans in Great Britain alone

Bird flu is approaching Europe with great strides. The disease struck Romania and Turkey last week and killed thousands of birds there. Now the dangerous viral infection has reached Greece. An outburst of bird flu was registered on the island of Oinouses in the Aegean Sea. Athens has already barred the export of poultry from the region; disinfection procedures are in full swing at all poultry farms across Greece. Bird flu epidemic

Disturbing information has been recently received from Croatia, where people periodically find dead sparrows and pigeons. It is not known yet whether bird flu is gathering pace in Croatia, experts are currently analyzing the situation.

Europe realized that it is facing a very serious danger. The Council of Europe gathered for a special meeting to discuss the situation and develop a strategy of struggle with the disease.

Bird flu was not a problem for the European Union only a short time ago; Europeans preferred to talk about it as something that happens in Asian states only. However, several European states have already had a premonition of imminent danger. The ornithological center of the Veterinary Institute of Zagreb, Croatia, has received samples of the virus taken from birds that were found dead in the center of the city. Three other dead birds were found on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. With palpitating heart Croatia is expecting the results of the analyses to be unveiled. The Croatian government is taking urgent measures the disease is diagnosed in the country: 500,000 common flu vaccines have been stocked up in the event scientists find traces of the H5 virus. Medical specialists believe that the common vaccine against flu will help people avoid the contagion. Experts say, however, that it is too early to ring the alarm.

Greece is currently experiencing a similar situation. Greece became the first country of the European Union, where the bird flu virus was found. The results of the medical analysis have not been exposed yet, although it is clear already that there is bird flu in Greece: the initial research has already confirmed the virus's identity with the H5 pathogenic organism.

For the time being specialists prefer to make rather cautious statements about a possible outbreak of bird flu epidemic in the European Union. They say that the level of pandemic danger remained unchanged, and no European citizen was infected with the dangerous virus. "If transmission from birds to humans had become more efficient, then we would be seeing more cases,'' a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, Mari Cheng said from Geneva.

However, EU authorities reacted instantly to news reports about the suspected outbreak of bird flu epidemic in Greece. A statement from the European Committee said that the transportation of poultry products and live birds from the infected region would be prohibited. The document will particularly be meant for the Oinouses island in the Aegean Sea, where the dead birds were found. Migrating birds from various parts of the world fly above the island regularly and thus threaten to distribute the disease across Europe.

Europe is panicking over the spreading bird flu epidemic. Poultry sales dropped considerably in Italy; forecasts create an image of rather pessimistic future as well.

Bird flu has killed over 60 humans in Southeast Asia over the recent two years. If the disease continues to spread and takes the form or a pandemic, the number of victims in Great Britain alone may reach 50,000, the British Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said.

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Author`s name Olga Savka