01/02/2006, 00.00
ASIA

Bird flu feared more virulent in Eastern Europe than in Asia

There have been several outbreaks of infection in Russia, Roumania and Turkey. Four Turkish siblings are not infected with the disease. There is a new suspect death in Indonesia.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – There are fears that bird flu is now more virulent in Eastern Europe than in Asia, given the infectious outbreaks of recent weeks. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, Russia reported 62 outbreaks as of 31 December (11 more than a week earlier), Romania counted 36 outbreaks, (10 more than on December 23), while no new outbreaks have been reported in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia or China in the last week.

In 2005, people dying from the disease doubled in comparison to 2004 and the infection spread throughout Asia as far as Eastern Europe, perhaps carried by migrating birds. This is the peak time for bird migration in Eastern Europe.

Last week, the Turkish health authorities announced the presence of a strain of the H5 virus among poultry and declared quarantine areas in an eastern town, near the Armenian border. More than 500 chickens were killed in Aralik. In Dogubayazit city, 60km south of Aralik, four Turkish children were admitted to hospital with high fever, coughing and blood in their throats, after eating a chicken. One of them died on Sunday night. Testing excluded the H5N1 virus.

Testing has also excluded bird flu in the case of a 48-year-old man who died in western Java, Indonesia, last week. However, a 39-year-old man died in Jakarta yesterday, he had symptoms of the disease and had had contact with poultry. Testing is under way.

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