Bird flu likely to spread to more European countries: OIE

he World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) warned on Tuesday that the deadly H5N1 bird flu is likely to spread to domestic poultry in more European nations.

"The spread of the infection to domestic poultry in other European and neighbouring countries is highly likely, and may even be made worse by the arrival in Europe of possibly infected birds from Africa and the Middle East next spring," the Paris-based OIE said in a statement.

The OIE announcement followed a meeting of chief veterinary officers from around 50 European countries to work on a common strategy for fighting the unfolding bird flu crisis.

"All countries of the world need to control the virus, irrespective of their national economies, as only one defaulting country can seriously endanger the rest of the planet," it said.

"The use of vaccination for the control of the disease has been discussed and considered an option in specific cases. Only vaccination carried out with effective monitoring will result in the eradication of the disease," the OIE said.

Both France and the Netherlands have permission to use a limited vaccination program.

After confirming the first case of H5N1 in a European poultry farm on Saturday, France began Monday vaccinating some 700,000 birds in the southwest French department of Landes, famous for the production of foie gras. The vaccination in France will take around six weeks.

The Netherlands hopes to begin the vaccination process in two or three weeks, covering only backyard and free-range poultry.

At least 18 new countries across Europe, Asia and Africa have reported initial outbreaks of the virus this month.

Germany reported two more cases of bird flu in wildfowl on Tuesday, and a dead cat was also confirmed as having been killed by the virus.

Parts of a zoo in Ukraine's southern port city of Odessa were placed in quarantine pending test results after pheasants and parrots began dying last week.

Source: Xinhua

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