October 17, 2005

Greece says has detected one case of birdflu

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece said on Monday it had detected one turkey with birdflu on the eastern Aegean island of Chios, becoming the first EU country where the virus has spread to.

"The Center for Veterinary Institutes has informed us that one of nine poultry samples has tested positive to birdflu (H5) antibodies," the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the turkey came from a small private poultry farm of about 20 turkeys on the tiny island of Inousses off Chios which belongs to the Chios prefecture.

It said it was running further tests to "to verify the correctness of the analysis."

Government officials said there was no need to cull any of the other birds.

"There has been no order for the culling of birds in the area," a high-level government official told Reuters.

"It was a small farm with about 20 turkeys. But any transport of birds, people, vehicles and eggs has been forbidden."

"The final confirmation will be made by the special laboratory in Thessaloniki (northern Greece) where special tests will take place."

The official said the government's emergency response plan had been activated.

Neighbouring Turkey, only a few miles off Chios, has also detected cases of birdflu as well as Romania, both of which have culled thousands of birds in the past days.

(Additional reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Lefteris Papadimas)