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Suspected case of H5N1 bird flu in Rotterdam zoo
posted by admin on 15/08/06

Two young owls which died in a zoo in Rotterdam.

AMSTERDAM, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Two young owls which died in a zoo in Rotterdam are suspected of having the H5N1 bird flu virus, the Dutch farm ministry said late on Saturday.

The Netherlands, Europe's second biggest poultry producer after France, has never reported a case of the highly pathogenic avian flu strain which is endemic in parts of Asia and has spread to birds in a number of European Union countries.

A ministry spokeswoman said further tests were being conducted, but it was suspected that the birds died of a highly pathogenic strain of the virus. Final test results are due in the coming days.

The H5N1 virus has spread rapidly from late 2003 from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The virus can occasionally infect people and has killed 138 people over the past three years, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.

No other dead birds have been found, and authorities are currently testing other birds in the zoological garden, most of which were vaccinated, the spokeswoman said.

The Netherlands found a low-pathogenic H7 bird flu strain at a farm earlier this month, prompting five countries to ban imports of Dutch poultry.

The Dutch suffered a devastating outbreak of an H7N7 avian flu strain in 2003 that led to the culling of about a third of the poultry flock, some 30 million birds.

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