Scientists play down avian flu

Almost 5,000 birds in Greece were checked for bird flu between last September and last month but none tested positive for the disease, which can be fatal for humans, scientists at a conference in Thessaloniki said on Saturday. The animals included wild birds and poultry bred for food. The samples tested at the Institute for Infectious Diseases in Thessaloniki were taken from live as well as dead birds. Three dead swans from northern Greece tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain disease in February – the first discovery of the virus in Greece. This was followed by tens of other positive tests but no humans have been affected in Greece so far. The outbreak of the disease, however, had a damaging effect on the country’s poultry industry. The head of the Greek Veterinary Society, Spyridon Kyriakis, accused the media of engaging in a «strange terrorism» and overstating the danger of the virus. «All the positive tests were in migrating wetland fowl,» he said.

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