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Germany says has first suspect farm bird flu case

By Staff
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HAMBURG, Feb 23 (Reuters) Germany has registered its first case of a farm bird initially testing positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, German authorities said today.

A duck on a farm on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen has tested positive for the disease in first examinations, a spokeswoman for the crisis staff in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state said.

Final test results are expected this afternoon.

The duck was from a farm with 106 other birds which had not been scheduled for precautionary culling on the island.

Some 103 wild birds have tested positive for bird flu since the disease first reached Germany on February 14, mostly on the island of Ruegen.

Most of the cases were migrating swans.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Agriculture Minister Till Backhaus said on local radio the farmer involved in the case had acted responsibly and reported the sick animal immediately.

Other animals on the farm were now being slaughtered as a preventive measure.

The district council in Ruegen had been criticised for slow action in responding to the disease before it handed responsibility to state and federal authorities on Sunday night.

The council had left dead birds uncollected on beaches for several days.

The German army currently has 250 soldiers on Ruegen largely collecting dead birds.

REUTERS SHR KP1755

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