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Israel culls poultry after bird flu outbreak


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Israel culls poultry after bird flu outbreak

Updated Fri. Mar. 17 2006 11:26 PM ET


CTV.ca News Staff


Israeli officials ordered the destruction of thousands of turkeys and chickens Friday -- after confirming the country's first cases of the deadly H5N1 virus.


Tests were ordered after the dead poultry were discovered on two farms near the Gaza Strip in the western Negev desert.


Five people admitted to a southern Israeli hospital were being observed for signs of bird flu, Israeli media reported, but Israeli government veterinary officials said they did not think they had contracted the disease.


Health Minister Yaakov Edri said if the virus does spread to humans, Israel has vaccinations for half a million of its seven million people.


World health officials fear H5N1 could evolve into a virus that can be transmitted easily between people and become a global pandemic, but there has been no confirmation of this happening yet.


Some people have contracted bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds. The World Health Organization says 98 people have died from H5N1 so far.


The virus has killed or forced the slaughter of tens of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia since 2003, and recently spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


Sweden's National Veterinary Institute said on Friday it had found a case of aggressive bird flu in the south east of the country, while Switzerland found two cases of H5 bird flu.


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