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Austria finds H5N1 in chicken, ducks at sanctuary

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VIENNA, Feb 22 (Reuters) Austrian authorities have found the H5N1 bird flu virus in two chicken and three ducks in an animal sanctuary in the southern city of Graz, the regional agriculture ministry said today.

While Austria's health ministry said the birds were not part of any commercial stock, the birds are the first case of domestic poultry carrying the H5N1 virus in the European Union, rather than in wild birds such as swans.

The birds had been kept in the same cage as a swan brought to the sanctuary from the area previously hit by the virus, violating regulations imposed after the first occurrence of the virus in Austria, a health ministry spokeswoman said.

The swan had died in the animal sanctuary ''Noah's Ark'' last week, prompting the slaughter and testing of all 30 birds that had been kept in the sanctuary.

REUTERS SHR RK1739

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