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Bird carrying deadly H5N1 virus found in Europe

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 10:59am

SOFIA, Bulgaria – A dead bird found near Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Varna has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 virus, officials said Thursday.

The Agriculture Ministry said the tests on a common buzzard were conducted at the national veterinary.

No other cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza were detected in Bulgaria, but farmers were alerted to the risks of transmission by migratory and wild birds.

Two weeks ago, a bird flu outbreak was found at a backyard poultry farm in a village in neighboring Romania, and all its birds were killed.

The European Commission called it the first detection of bird flu in the European Union in a year, following a confirmed case in March 2009 involving a wild duck in Germany.

Gregory Hartl, a World Health Organization spokesman in Geneva, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he heard about the bird flu cases in Bulgaria and Romania, but that WHO doesn't confirm or record bird flu cases unless they involve humans.

Bird flu has killed 291 people around the world since it began ravaging poultry stocks in 2003, Hartl said, with Indonesia being the worst hit country.