Tests to reveal if bird strain has arrived in Greece, Macedonia


Test results due today will show whether the bird flu virus detected on the Greek island of Inousses is the potentially lethal H5N1 strain.

Serological and virological tests were ordered at an EU-accredited laboratory in northern Greece, after a turkey tested positive for avian influenza. Greece has banned exports of poultry from some of its Aegean islands, but the government urged people not to panic pending the test results.

Tests are also being carried out on samples from a dead chicken found in southern Macedonia, which borders Greece.

Macedonian authorities said yesterday they would quarantine a small village and send a suspect chicken sample to England for testing.

Sloboden Cokrevski, the director of the Macedonian veterinarian administration, said a "forbidden zone" would be set up near the village of Mogila outside the city of Bitola, and 10,000 chickens would be culled following an outbreak of Newcastle disease.

He said the cull would be carried out because of the Newcastle disease outbreak. It is not a threat to humans, but can paralyse and kill birds. It is different from bird flu and is caused by a different virus.

Mr Cokrevski said a test of 40 chickens found that 39 had Newcastle disease but one had a "strange" flu that Macedonian authorities could not diagnose.

"A strange form of flu virus was detected among one of 40 samples of dead chickens from Mogila. It could be any form of flu, so we need additional tests to be done in labs in London to be sure," Mr Cokrevski said.

An outbreak of Newcastle disease recently killed thousands of chickens in Macedonia, including about 1,500 over the weekend.

Bitola is about 12 miles (19.3km) north of the Greek border. - (AP)