Romania says three birds in its Danube Delta region have died of avian flu. Tests are being carried out to establish whether or not they were killed by the H5N1 strain of the virus that has proved lethal to humans. Authorities have imposed a three-kilometre quarantine around the site of the outbreak, in the heart of Europe’s largest wetlands.
Romania’s agriculture minister said all domestic birds in the area would be culled to prevent the disease spreading. And medical teams were heading to the zone to test humans. The news comes as officials from 80 countries met in Washington to work on plans to fight an eventual outbreak of bird flu. The World Health Organisation fears the H5N1 strain could create a pandemic claiming millions of lives.
At the same time, US President George Bush held a meeting with pharmaceutical companies, urging them to invest more in vaccine research. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, outlined the danger. “We do know that some day there will be a pandemic and our preparation is not adequate and our purpose is to prepare and to be ready whenever it should come,” he said.
Leavitt said he was heading to Asia which has seen the worst of the disease. Among ideas he will be taking with him to stop the problem at source is testing vaccines.