It may look like a sun-kissed paradise but the picture-postcard island of Inousses in the Aegean Sea is at the forefront of fears that bird flu is spreading uncontrollably across Europe.
The virus has been detected on the tiny Greek island and, if confirmed as the deadly H5N1 strain, it will be the first such case within the European Union. From Russia, bird flu has already moved into Turkey and Romania. Bulgaria and other Balkan countries have also been testing birds. Migrating species heading to Europe and Africa are believed to be behind the spread. As EU foreign ministers hold emergency talks on the problem today, Romanian ornithologist Eugen Petrescu warned that as birds fly to the south and west, the virus would spread. In a bid to protect itself from bird flu, the southern German state of Bavaria has decided to outlaw poultry markets. Before the ban came into effect, some were glad to get rid of their remaining stocks. “I will sell my chickens for half price just so that they are gone,” said a visitor to one bird market in the state. Europe is attemping to balance moves to test for outbreaks with the need to reassure EU citizens amid growing concern about a disease with the potential to mutate and cause a pandemic among humans.