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Hungarian Geese Slaughtered as Bird Flu Returns to EU

The European Commission confirmed Monday the first outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus in the EU since mid-2006, after tests on Hungarian geese proved positive//. But experts say the mild winter might prevent it spreading.

European Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou urged all member states "to step up their vigilance" and to reassess their risk levels following the outbreak at a goose farm in Csongrad County, southeastern Hungary, according to his spokesman Philip Tod.

An EU-approved laboratory in Britain had confirmed that it "was indeed a case of the H5N1 strain," Tod told a press conference in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian authorities announced a suspected second outbreak in the southeast of the country and said they had responded by slaughtering all 9,400 geese on the farm.

"Animals suspected of carrying bird flu were found Friday on a goose farm in Derekegyhaza," about 170 kilometers (105 miles) southeast of Budapest, the agriculture ministry said.

Samples from that farm were also sent to the laboratory in Weybridge, near London, which the Commission uses to confirm such cases.

Tod stressed that in both instances all EU rules had been carried out, including the slaughter of infected flocks, disinfection of affected farms and the setting up of safety zones within a 10-kilometer perimeter.

While assuring that no further measures were necessary, Tod said fresh outbreaks could not be ruled out.

Source-Bio-Bio Technology

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