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Czechs confirm H5N1 bird flu

12th July 2007

Poultry at two farms in the eastern part of the Czech Republic have been confirmed by laboratory tests to be infected with the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus, officials said.

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The State Veterinary Authority (SVS) said the virus was found at the two farms, which have a total population of 71,000 poultry, bringing the number of outbreaks at Czech farms to four.

All birds on the farms were scheduled to be culled, according to standard isolation and quarantine procedures.

SVS spokesman Josef Duben said officials had expected the result.

The first bird flu case was found in the eastern part of the country at a turkey farm in June.

The two farms where disease was reported are within a 3-km (1.9-mile) protective zone around another farm where H5N1 had been found.

Vets have extended the standard 3-km protection zone and 10-km surveillance zone to include the two farms.

Meanwhile, German scientists have discovered that the bird-flu virus which has killed a number of swans in southern Germany shared a common origin with the Czech outbreak.

"We assume infected wild birds infected both the Czech poultry and the water fowl in Germany," The German Press Agency (DPA) quoted Elke Reinking, spokeswoman of the Freidrich Loeffler Animal Health Institute (FLI), as saying.

DNA tests showed a 99.2% match between the bird flu outbreak in the Czech Republic and the virus found in dead swans in Nuremberg.

Germany has confirmed a total of nine cases of bird flu caused by H5N1 in recent weeks.

The H5N1 bird flu virus, which experts fear could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, has also been found in geese and turkeys in farms in Hungary and Britain this year.

According to the World Health Organization, the H5N1 virus has killed nearly 200 people out of more than 300 cases globally since 2003.

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