Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Night's Black Bird IV

"BERLIN, Feb. 15 -- Migrating swans have spread a lethal strain of avian flu into several European nations in recent days, and experts predicted it was likely only a matter of time before the virus is carried across the continent by migrating birds.

Germany confirmed Wednesday that two dead swans found on the island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The virus originated in Asia and has jumped from birds to infect at least 165 humans worldwide, killing 91, according to the World Health Organization.

In the past week, dead swans that tested positive for the virus have also been reported in Austria, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.

The virus has previously been detected in Romania, Croatia, and Ukraine. And health officials in Poland, Denmark, and Hungary announced Wednesday that they were checking dead swans to learn if the infection has spread to their countries as well.

"The virus is here," said Dr. Lutz Guertler, a microbiology professor at the University of Greifswald in northern Germany. "We still don't know how this virus is dissipated or what the infection rate will be, but it is here, without question."

So far, the virus has been confined to wild birds in Europe, although there are fears it could easily infect flocks of chickens or other poultry. That could put humans at higher risk, since most people who have contracted the flu have become infected through close contact with live chickens ..."

Craig Whitlock and Daniel Williams "Bird Flu Spreading Into Several European Nations: In Past Week, Deadly Strain Detected in Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Greece, Slovenia" February 15, 2006

Wild Black swan.

Photo credit: With thanks.


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