European Union officials helping Turkey investigate an outbreak of bird flu say there is no indication the virus poses a human health problem.
The outbreak in a western village killed 1,800 turkeys. The virus, found 120 kilometres from Istanbul, was the deadly H5N1 strain that has decimated flocks in Asia, killing over 60 people there. Ankara says that now nearly 10,000 birds have been culled, the outbreak is contained. Philippe Houdart of the Belgium Food Agency said: “The disease is mainly at the moment a veterinary problem so as far as we are concerned this is not at the moment a human health problem. And that is why the EU sent veterinary experts and not human health experts.” Tests on dead ducks in Romania confirmed the presence of H5N1 in the Danube delta, Europe’s largest wetlands and a major way station for birds migrating south towards warmer climes. Many scientists believe HN51 will eventually mutate into a form transmitttable between humans, making a pandemic more likely. Roche, the firm which makes the anti-viral drug Tamiflu, has said it is giving three million packs to the World Health Organization.