Romania culls thousands of fowl to stop the spread of bird flu

A remote village outside the Danube delta has been quarantined after the discovery of an avian flu virus in a turkey.

The village in Romania will cull thousands of fowl in order to prevent the scourge from spreading westward.

The deadly H5N1 strain was previously found in the village in October.

Authorities say the turkey was from the small village of Scarlatesti, in the Braila county, some 70 miles (113 km) from the delta on the local mayor's farm.

Scarlatesti, a village of 1,000 farmers is in an area of lakes and is near a number of towns.

It is 170 km from the capital Bucharest.

According to Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur who imposed the quarantine on the village, as many 17,000 fowl were being culled to halt the spread of the strain, probably brought by migratory birds.

It seems that samples from the turkey have been sent to Britain to determine whether it is the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain which has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003 and which has been previously found in the Danube delta.

If this is the case, it would be the first evidence the disease has spread to the fringes of more populated regions of the Balkan state.

It is unclear when the results will be known.

The country's chief veterinarian Ion Agafitei says they are doing their best to contain the virus, but no one can say whether migratory birds will spread it westward.

The village has been cordoned off by riot police and residents are being vaccinated by medical teams against regular flu as a precautionary move to boost their immunity.

However many villagers are far more concerned about the loss of their livelihood than the disease itself.

The Balkan state last month became the first country in mainland Europe to detect the deadly H5N1 virus in poultry in two villages in the Danube delta, Europe's largest wetlands near the Black Sea and a resting place for migratory wild birds.

The H5N1 strain led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of domestic birds in the country of 22 million, which has not reported any cases of bird flu in humans so far.

But scientists worldwide fear the virus might mutate into a form that could be easily transmitted between humans.

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