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News 346 views update:Dec 4, 2007

Avian Influenza strikes Poland

Polish officials announced yesterday that 4,200 turkeys were culled by the state's veterinary service following an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu.

The avian influenza outbreak was identified on Saturday on two farms around 80km northwest of Warsaw near the city of Plock.

District crisis management chief, Hilary Januszcyzk, was reported as stating that "the Turkeys around the village of Brudzen near Plock were gassed on Saturday night and their carcasses will be fully destroyed by Sunday".

The area around the farms has been cordoned off and farms within 3km of the outbreak are being investigated. However, no new cases have been discovered.

Deputy chief state veterinarian, Krzysztof Jazdzewski, indicated that samples have been taken and sent to the State Veterinary Institute in Pulawy. Authorities are ordering farmers to keep their poultry indoors. "There is no reason to panic," he said.

Early reports indicate that the virus is likely to have been brought by migrating ducks, geese or swans.

Poland has been commended by the European Commission for action taken to contain the spread of the virus. Commission spokeswoman, Barbara Helfferich, commented that "Polish authorities had contacted the Commission in the middle of the night about suspicion of the virus and all appropriate measures have now been taken'.

Bird flu has been discovered previously in Poland in wild swans near the city of Torun in early 2006.

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