Saturday, February 11, 2006

Avian influenza found in Italy

Italy’s health minister said Saturday that the deadly strain of avian influenza, H5N1, has infected some swans in the country. This is the first case of the avian influenza virus in this country.

The virus was found in swans in three Italian regions: Puglia and Calabria in southern Italy, and Sicily, said Health Minister Francesco Storace. The swans had arrived from the Balkans, he said.

Health minister Storace also told reporters, “It’s certain that the virus has reached Italy.” Authorities stress that so far no human cases of avian influenza have been reported in the country, and that the outbreak posed no immediate threat to humans, only birds.

“It’s a relatively safe situation for human health, less so for animal health,” said Storace. The exact number of birds infected by the virus have not been released, but the health minister said that most of the 17 swans that were found dead, most likely had the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

The health minister also stated that testing was conducted in at a laboratory in the northern city of Padua, and that results were expected as early as Saturday afternoon.

Posted by john T. on 02/11 at 03:48 PM
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