Bird flu found in children's kindy

Officials in Israel say the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been found in dead chickens at an animal corner in a kindergarten in Binyamina.

According to the Agriculture Ministry 18 dead chickens were found to have the virus which can be passed on to humans; another dozen birds in the kindergarten were culled.

As a result government veterinarians have been ordered to cull all birds in commercial farms and private courtyards within a 3-km radius of the kindergarten and investigators are checking for any signs of an outbreak at poultry farms within a 10-km radius of Binyamina.

The kindergarten is in the northern town of Binyamina, and parents of children at the facility have been warned to watch for signs of high fever which is the most common symptom associated with the virus.

Though officials say that no one - including the children - had had any direct contact with the fowl except for the keeper, there have been reports of a four-year-old girl at the kindergarten who has been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.

In March 2006 around 1.2 million chickens and turkeys were culled by Israeli authorities after chickens in several communal farms were found to have been infected with the H5N1 virus.

The Health Ministry has reiterated basic guidelines to prevent bird flu infection and district health officials are preparing for the possibility of human infection.

Emergency teams across the country have been instructed to refresh procedures and ensure the presence of protective measures and sterilization substances in their ambulances.

The Health Ministry says it has not upgraded the level of alertness for bird flu.

Since 2003 bird flu has claimed the lives of 212 humans worldwide and millions of birds have killed or culled as a result of the virus.

Experts suspect migratory birds are the main culprits in spreading bird flu from Asia to the Middle East and Europe.

Health experts continue to fear that the virus could mutate into one that spreads easily from one person to another, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions.

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