The deadly strain of bird flu has now reached three new European countries. The outbreak has been detected in dead wild swans in the south of Italy, so far the illness, also fatal to humans has only been detected in birds.
Italy’s Health Minister Francesco Storace said the number infected was unclear, 17 dead swans had been found but not all were confirmed as having the fatal virus. Sicily, Puglia and Calabra are the regions affected, but there is now also proof that the H5N1 strain has arrived in Bulgaria and Greece. In all three countries the disease appears to be so far restricted to migratory swans – though scientists are waiting results from a dead wild goose found on the Greek island of Skyros. Both Athens and Rome say no bird flu has been detected in farms or domestic poultry. At present humans can only catch bird flu through close contact with sick birds. European authorities say safety measures should prevent that from happening. But the fear is the virus will mutate and pass from human to human. Asian countries have been hardest hit by avian flu. Indonesia is mourning the death of its second victim in two days. But Africa is also of great concern. Nigeria has cases of the deadly strain. Like in many other African countries – poultry are everywhere and experts are asking how the disease will be contained.