By IANS, [RxPG] The lethal bird flu virus has been found in dead swans in Italy and Greece, in the first recorded avian cases of the disease in European Union countries.
Tests at the bird flu reference laboratory in Padua, Italy confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain of the virus, ANSA news agency reported.
Italy's health minister said 17 dead swans had been found in the southern regions of Calabria, Apula and Sicily.
Meanwhile, Greek state radio reported that tests conducted in Britain from three swans found in the northern port of Thessaloniki had also confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus - information confirmed by the Greek agriculture ministry.
The samples were collected from a group of wild swans found dead in three coastal areas within 70 km of Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city.
A goose infected with bird flu was also found Saturday on the Aegean island of Skyros, agriculture ministry officials said, but it was not yet known if it was the deadly H5N1 strain.
The H5N1 strain of the virus, which has killed four people in neighbouring Turkey, has also forced other Balkan countries to cull thousands of poultry.
Experts fear that H5N1 could evolve into a strain that could be passed from human to human - not just from birds to human, as is currently the case - setting off a human flu pandemic.
Indo-Asian News Service
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