Turkey detects bird flu virus in poultry

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey detected bird flu virus in dead chickens found late last month in the northern part of the country after it had started culling poultry due to bird flu suspicions, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. The culling was sparked after residents reported chicken deaths in a district in the Samsun province in the northern Black Sea region. «Bird flu disease was detected in the samples after examinations in our ministry’s laboratories,» a statement from the ministry said. It did not say whether the virus was the deadly H5N1 strain. The statement said it was informed about the dead chickens on January 28 in Samsun province, on the Black Sea coast, and that studies showed the virus was transmitted to farm chickens from wild birds. «In a limited area covering farms of eight families, 37 birds were culled for prevention and culling has ended. There is nothing to worry about with the situation as all measures have been taken on this disease which was detected in a very small area,» the statement said. The area where the virus was spotted remains under quarantine, it added. Last month, Turkey culled nearly 600 birds in villages in Zonguldak, another province on the Black Sea coast, after an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain. Turkey lies on the migratory route for wild birds flying south from Scandinavia and Siberia to North Africa for winter. Four people died from bird flu in eastern Turkey in 2006 after they came into contact with sick birds. Although bird flu remains an animal disease, experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily passed from human to human and kill millions.