Czech Republic may have first case of deadly bird flu
The Czech Republic has detected its first case of bird flu in a swan. Veterinary tests showed the presence of the H5 virus although it will not be clear until Wednesday whether it was the deadly H5N1 variety, which is dangerous to human beings.
Well Chris, so far the Czech Republic has tested close to 300 birds for the deadly virus and it looks like this one may be it. At an emergency press-briefing on Monday morning the agriculture minister Jan Mladek said that although so far vets had confirmed only the H5 virus in the swan, it would most likely turn out to be the deadly H5N1 variety. This virus has already been detected in all neighbouring states and, as the minister said, it was only a question of time until it was detected here. The authorities are clearly taking this case very seriously. Having said that, we will not have final confirmation of this until Wednesday.
So where was the bird found - and what measures are being taken in the meantime?
"We have introduced an immediate ban on the transport of live birds, poultry, eggs and bird feed. All cars leaving the area are being disinfected and wild birds and poultry are under close scrutiny. Outdoor breeding has been banned and it is expected that further measures will follow if the current tests confirm the H5N1 virus. We are cooperating with ornithologists, hunters and the local authorities who will guarantee that all the respective measures are strictly abided by. In the worst case scenario we will have special containers for dead birds where they can be assembled, taken for tests and then eliminated."
Was there any message to the public at this briefing?
Well, as you might expect, the agriculture minister Mr. Mladek made a point of stressing several times over that things were under control, he said the authorities were ready to deal with this and that there was no reason to panic. He even said that there was no reason to stop eating poultry. But I think that especially people living in the vicinity of the high risk zone may think otherwise.