Sunday, October 16, 2005

High wild bird mortality in Iran, health body says

David Evans, Reuters:
Veterinary authorities in Iran have observed a high death rate among wild waterfowl but the cause remains unclear, the world animal health body said on Thursday.

"No pathological agent has been identified yet," the Paris-based Office International des Epizooties (OIE) said on its website, citing a report from Iran's chief veterinary officer.

"No post-mortem lesions are seen in the dead birds; weakness and death are the only evidence," it said, adding that the bird deaths totalled 3,673. In Iran, a spokesman for the veterinary authority said no signs of bird flu had been discovered. READ MORE

"We've done different tests on these birds but we haven't found anything. We don't know the reason (for their deaths). We haven't seen any cases of bird flu up to now," spokesman Behrouz Yasemi said. "We have quarantined the area."

The OIE said it had requested more information from Iran.

The Iranian report said control measures included quarantine and movement curbs within the country, and that disinfection of affected areas had been undertaken.

Authorities in Romania confirmed on Thursday that a strain of bird flu had been discovered in ducks in the Danube Delta.

Further tests were being carried out to discover if it is the same type of avian influenza that has hit Asia, killing millions of birds and more than 60 people.

Turkey has also reported cases, and test results are expected on Friday to show whether this is a low-risk strain or the more serious H5N1 virus seen in Asia.

Experts fear that the H5N1 strain, which has also spread to eastern Russia, may be carried by migrating birds to Europe.

Iran has been braced for an outbreak of bird flu due to the millions of wild geese, ducks and other waterfowl that winter in the country's wetlands and lakes.

Experts fear that if the bird flu virus mutates in the future and acquires the ability to pass easily between humans, it could trigger a pandemic killing millions of people.