Tests fail to find bird flu in Greece

The government has started to pick up the pieces left behind by a false alarm over a suspected case of bird flu appearing in the country after final tests confirmed that a sick turkey found on an eastern Aegean island was not infected with the deadly strain of the disease. The Agricultural Development Ministry said on Saturday that tests carried out at a European Union certified laboratory in Weybridge, England were negative for the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Greece was quick to inform the EU’s agricultural services over the weekend and other international bodies about the test results in a bid to reverse some of the damage suffered by its poultry sector. Industry experts said that after a Greek laboratory supposedly located antibodies that belong to the avian flu on a turkey on the islet of Oinouses a few weeks ago, demand for poultry products slumped by up to 70 percent. Saturday’s test results mean that the export ban imposed on Oinouses and the region will be lifted. «It is self-evident that if and when similar cases appear in the future, the exact same measures will be taken,» the ministry said. It is not clear, however, whether countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine will now lift their own bans imposed on Greek poultry. Government officials will be keen to close the book on the incident after reportedly confusing the samples sent for confirmation tests in a mixup that even prompted a Supreme Court investigation into the handling of the matter.