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Low-risk flu strain found in Italian turkeys

by 5m Editor
21 April 2005, at 12:00am

ITALY - Italy has detected a low-risk strain of bird flu in turkeys in one of its northern regions but the outbreak does not pose a threat to public health, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Low-risk flu strain found in Italian turkeys - ITALY - Italy has detected a low-risk strain of bird flu in turkeys in one of its northern regions but the outbreak does not pose a threat to public health, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

"A low pathogenic form of avian influenza was notified to the European Commisson on April 18 concerning 10 turkey flocks in the province of Brescia," a Commission official told Reuters.

"These findings are not associated with any concern for public health," he said, noting that the strain was H5N2. It was not immediately clear how many birds were affected.

Italian authorities were now expected to carry out vaccinations in the area in question, the official said.

Italy's Health Ministry said it would also destroy some 180,000 turkeys as a precaution.

"Current international regulations do not even require us to notify anyone or to act on these low-risk viruses, but we do it anyway to be correct and to prevent the virus becoming high-risk with time," Ugo Santucci, head of the ministry's animal health department, told Reuters.

Earlier on Wednesday Russia's Agriculture Ministry said it had suspended imports of poultry and poultry product from Italy to prevent the spread of bird flu. The Russian ban also applies to poultry meat products subjected to thermal treatment.

"We have not been notified by Russia yet. We heard this from reports," said Santucci.

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. All birds are thought to be susceptible to infection.

Italy was the country where the disease was first identified, more than 100 years ago. It now occurs worldwide.

Source: Reuters - 21st April 2005

5m Editor