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Countries Step up Battle Against Bird Flu

br> Turkey's Agriculture Ministry said almost 600,000 poultry had been culled across the country over the past two weeks. Newspapers say the authorities may offer 5 lira ($3) per chicken, 15 ($9) lira per goose and duck and 20 lira ($12) per turkey as compensation.

The human victims of the disease had all been in East Asia until the recent outbreak in Turkey brought the virus to the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Three infected children died last week in eastern Turkey and 15 more people have tested positive. Authorities are testing whether a four-year-old girl who died Friday was infected.

Two children were discharged from a hospital in Van, eastern Turkey, on Thursday after being treated with Tamiflu. Like many other children, they were apparently infected while comforting a sick chicken.

International pharmaceutical giant Roche AG, maker of Tamiflu, the best-known drug defense against flu, said it would donate more antiviral pills to Asia, the epicenter of the pandemic threat. Turkish doctors feel early use of the drug would help save some young victims of the H5N1.

Roche told a bird flu conference in Tokyo it was in talks with the World Health Organization about donating more Tamiflu to set up an Asian stockpile.

Worried Neighbors

Iran has started culling thousands of birds along its border with Turkey to try to stop the disease from spreading.

France has was extended its poultry confinement measures to 58 departments from an original 26 as fears grew over a virus believed to be carried by migratory birds.

Romania, just across the Black Sea from Turkey, has boosted disinfection measures on major roads and introduced luggage checks. The H5N1 virus has been found in poultry in 26 Romanian villages since October, but no human cases of the disease have been reported.

Africa Seeks Aid

Meanwhile, African states will present an action plan to reduc
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