As the first cases of avian flu in wild birds in the European Union were reported, finance ministers of the Group of Eight wealthiest nations said more must be done to help poor nations fight the spread of the virus.
Three swans found near Thessaloniki in Greece and sent to a testing laboratoryin Britain tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain that has killed more than 80 people, mostly in south-east Asia. Bulgaria says the lethal strain has been confirmed among swans in wetlands close to its border with Romania. Meanwhile Italy said five wild swans found dead on the southern island of Sicily and the southern regions of Puglia and Calabria had tested positive for H5N1. Greece is taking preventive measures include isolating poultry and keeping flocks indoors. One Athens resident said: “I’m not someone who’s particularly scared, I believe proper measures have been taken. From then on it will depend on developments.” It was the same message at the lake in Rome’s Villa Borghese, where people fed breadcrumbs to the swans and ducks. One man said: “I feel safe here in Italy. I think influenza is concentrated in Asia, in Turkey, but not here.” But one Sicilian, at least, thought people would still have to be on the lookout. This week a UN official said the virus could soon mutate into a form that can spread from human to human.