Avian Influenza
Italy records 16 cases of bird flu
Feb 22, 2006 - 3:28:37 PM

The deadly H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus has been confirmed in a total of 16 wild birds in Italy, media reports said Monday.

The latest cases involve a wild duck found dead near a pond in the central Italian region of Umbria and a buzzard and a wild cock hosted at an animal care centre in Sicily, Italy's bird flu reference laboratory in Padua said.

All other cases of bird flu in Italy involved wild swans.

Poultry consumption has plunged by an estimated 70 percent since the disease was first detected in Italy 10 days ago, despite the fact that no domestic animal has so far contracted the virus.

Producers said they had suffered damages running into hundreds of million of euros and are appealing to the European Union for help.

Italian Health Minister Francesco Storace and Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno planned to take up their cause during a meeting with EU officials in Brussels.

"We expect the European Commission will be willing to resolve a vital issue for Italy," Storace told Italy's Adnkronos news agency Monday.

An estimated 30,000 jobs have been lost in Italy's poultry industry, which employs a total of 200,000 people.

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