Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The H5N1 virus at the Heart of Europe

As announced by the German authorities, the supplementary tests performed on the two dead swans found in the Baltic confirmed that they had been infected by the deadly H5N1 virus. At the same time, cases of the virus were located in dead poultry in Austria and Romania, as well as two swans in southern Italy.

Furthermore, the results of the tests performed on three dead swans in southern Hungary, after samples were sent to London, were positive to the deadly virus strain. In the meantime, Iran announced its first case of the deadly avian flu virus close to the Caspian Sea, while in Indonesia, a 19-year-old male who had been infected by the disease passed away.

The EU veterinary committee, which is convening in Brussels today, is expected to decide on drastic measures to deal with avian flu in the EU countries. The measures will include culling all poultry of any kind and destroying their eggs even if only one case is detected. In addition, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre are hoping to develop an experimental vaccine against avian flu.

Vagelis Theodorou
Translated by Vicky Ghionis