Sweden said yesterday it had detected its first cases of an aggressive form of bird flu, which was likely to be confirmed as the deadly H5N1 strain, in two wild ducks found dead on the Baltic coast.
"We have found bird flu in Sweden," Agriculture Minister Ann-Christin Nykvist told a news conference.
Animal health authorities said the strain of flu found in the two wild birds near the southeastern port of Oskarshamn seemed to be the same one detected in countries already hit by outbreaks of H5N1, but they could not yet confirm this.
Samples have been sent to Britain for tests and results are due in one to two weeks. But Marianne Elvander of the National Veterinary Institute said the viral sequence in the two birds, which was identical to that seen in China, Nigeria and Russia, "strongly indicates that this is H5N1."
Swedish authorities had been braced for such a discovery since Germany found cases of bird flu on the Baltic island of Ruegen, which is near Sweden's south coast, in mid-February.
Further north in Norway, the Food Safety Authority said it believed there was a "high chance" that wild birds would bring the disease to that country as well, where 122 birds have been tested for H5N1 since mid-February, all of them negative.
Swedish poultry farmers raise about 70 million birds a year and imports of chicken account for about a third of consumption, which has more than doubled in the last decade.
Meanwhile, Romania confirmed the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in domestic birds in the village of Topalu, in the south-east, and detected new suspected cases, authorities said yesterday. Avian flu has been detected in 35 villages and a small Black Sea resort across the country since the virus was first found in the Danube Delta in October.
Source: China Daily