Headline News


Germany & Belgium on bird flu alert


03-02-2006 09:18

Germans authorities have urged citizens to step up vigilance against bird flu. Especially in regards to pets -- after a cat was found dead of the disease. The discovery on Tuesday raised concern about the potential for cat-to human transmission. Meanwhile, in Belgium, most farmers have met a deadline for locking up poultry and domestic birds ahead of the seasonal migration period.

The discovery of a dead cat infected with the H5N1 virus dominated German newspapers and television. Police on Wednesday blocked access to, and from, the small town of Seehof where the dead cat was found. A federal crisis group set up to deal with the outbreak has ordered all domestic cats be kept indoors in zones hit by bird flu. And dogs to be kept on a leash. The German Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that the crisis group had decided against vaccination of house cats. The World Health Organization has said the case probably does not increase the risk to humans of a disease which has killed at least 93 people since late 2003. But some experts have said cat-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, national veterinary experts from across the EU have gathered in Brussels for crisis talks on the spread of bird flu in Europe.

The vast majority of Belgian poultry farmers or owners have met the March 1st deadline for locking up chickens and other domestic birds. The measure aims to help prevent poultry from coming into contact with migrating wild birds, and potentially picking up the highly contagious virus. This, as songbirds are expected to begin arriving in southern Europe from Africa -- in coming days.


Editor:Chen Zhuo