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Turkey Confirms Return Of Bird Flu Among Chickens

Turkey confirmed an outbreak of bird flu in the southeast of the country on Thursday; a year after the H5N1 strain of the disease// killed four children in the region.

The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Thursday 170 chickens had died of bird flu in Bogazkoy village in the province of Batman. The ministry said it believed wild birds had spread the disease.

Three children with flu-like symptoms from the village were taken into hospital for observation but this was only a precaution, local officials said.

'We have put under quarantine an area of three square km,' Batman Governor Haluk Imga told Reuters.

'We will cull nearly 1,500 chickens, ducks and turkeys in that area. A 25-man team is carrying out this work.'

Veterinary experts were carrying out tests to determine whether the virus was the deadly H5N1 strain.

Last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed four deaths in Turkey from H5N1 -- all of them children from the town of Dogubayazit near the Iranian border.

Eight other Turks tested positive for the H5N1 strain but recovered, according to WHO data. More than 160 people worldwide have died of the virus since 2003.

Scientists fear the H5N1 virus could mutate to a form easily transmitted from human to human. As people would lack immunity, it could then sweep the world, killing millions, they say.

Victims usually contract bird flu through direct exposure to diseased or dead poultry.

Experts believe migratory birds originally brought the virus to Turkey and Europe from Asia and Russia, infecting domestic poultry. Turkish authorities culled more than 1.3 million birds during the 2006 outbreaks.

Bird flu is cited as one of the factors behind a 7 percent drop in Turkish tourism revenues in 2006 from the previous year.

Source-Bio-Bio Technology

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