"Anti-bird flu" water withdrawn from sale; emergency teams ready for outbreak
The threat of bird flu is moving ever closer to the Czech Republic. Most recently, neighbouring Slovakia detected its first H5N1 cases in two wild birds and the deadly strain has been confirmed in numerous wild birds and for the first time in domestic poultry in Germany. Experts say it is just a question of time before the virus reaches the Czech Republic. As the country's emergency teams are bracing themselves for a potential outbreak, some fraudsters are also trying to take advantage of the situation.
"Our drink contains nucleotides which are proved to prevent bird flu," spokesman Roman Bajcan told TV Nova.
Experts have dismissed the water's miraculous properties and condemned the producer's move as profiteering on people's fear. All remaining supplies of the water have now been withdrawn from the shelves.
Meanwhile, veterinarians are on their guard, monitoring both poultry farms and also dead wild birds. Josef Duben is the spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration.
So far, all tests have been negative but Josef Duben says an emergency plan is ready.
"If bird flu were confirmed in a dead bird, the site would be cordoned off. All farm poultry would have to be kept indoors within a 3-kilometre zone. In a 10-kilometre zone around the spot, all transport of birds would be banned, all poultry would be tested and cars would be disinfected. The State Veterinary Administration, the police, fire fighters and hygiene authorities are all ready for the eventuality."
As of last week, commercial farmers have been banned from allowing their birds to wander freely outside. The measure now applies also to zoos around the country which are spreading nets over bird runs to prevent contact with wild birds.
Even though bird flu has not been detected in the Czech Republic, the atmosphere of general concern has already affected commercial poultry farmers who are posting considerable losses. Both demand and prices have fallen.