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Turkish PM says bird flu under control

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to quell fears of a pandemic by saying the bird flu outbreak, which killed three people in his country // , is now under control.

"The situation is fully under control. We will continue to monitor it closely," Erdogan newsmen with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. "So for the time being any danger is out of the question," he added. People identified as carriers of the deadly H5N1 virus were being given treatment, and were not critical.

Meanwhile, Turkish Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ministry said that 306,000 winged animals have been culled in 15 cities across Turkey so far in an effort to contain bird flu.

These cities are Igdir, Erzurum, Agri, Bursa, Istanbul, Sanliurfa, Erzincan, Bitlis, Yozgat, Van, Siirt, Bingol, Kars, Corum and Ankara.

Meanwhile, the Turkey’s fifteenth human case of bird flu was confirmed. Already the deadly H5N1 strain has killed two teenagers in the country’s impoverished east, with another 13 nationals confirmed to be carriers of the disease.

Meanwhile three new outbreaks of the virus were detected among fowl in the west and southeast of the country, according to local officials quoted by the Anatolia news agency.

A massive campaign of slaughtering poultry is underway in several parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Turkey's neighbors are also on high alert strengthening quarantine measures for travelers and their cargo inbound from Turkey. Bulgaria and Greece, which both neighbor Turkey, said they were taking precautions to prevent a possible contamination.

Germany, home to the largest Turkish community in Europe, pledged to block the illegal import of poultry from the country.

Russia, one of Turkey's largest trading partners, has increased its border controls as well. Russian authorities said people entering the country could be held in quarantine by border guards if they displayed sym ptoms of the bird flu.

Turkey and Russia share extensive business and tourism links and are separated by the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. According to ITAR-TASS reports, regional observers claim illegal cross-border trade is rife.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to plan special public health measures.

No human-to-human spread

The World Health Organization said Tuesday there was still no evidence to suggest that the H5N1 virus was being passed between humans.

"There is no element today that would support person to person transmission," the WHO’s Guenael Rodier said.

Mr Rodier, who heads the WHO investigative team currently in Turkey, said he believed the outbreak in the country could be stopped. "I have a sense that what is going on in Turkey can be brought under control relatively easily," he said.


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