Bird Flu

Bird flu scare at Dutch zoo

2006-08-13 10:07

Special Report

Bird flu scare in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is on bird flu alert again after a wild bird found in a busy shopping area tested positive for the H5 strain of the avian flu virus.

The Hague - Two owls found dead at the Rotterdam zoo may have been infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu virus that has killed nearly 140 people, the Dutch agriculture ministry said late on Saturday.

"As part of routine examinations indications were found of the H5N1 bird flu virus," the ministry said in a statement.

A second test returned the same result, while a third is being conducted to determine conclusively whether the owls were infected with H5N1 strain.

Unlike most of the birds at the zoo, the owls had not been vaccinated against the bird flu.

The authorities said there was little risk to the public, and the zoo would remain open, but measures would be taken to ensure there was no contact with birds.

At the beginning of the month a mild form of the H7N7 strain of bird flu was found on a Dutch farm.

In 2003 the Netherlands was hit hard by an epidemic of a stronger H7N7 strain which led to the cull of 25 million birds, about one quarter of the country's poultry population at the time. One veterinarian died.

According to the World Health Organisation 138 people have died from the H5N1 strain of the virus.

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