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Czechs cull turkeys after H5N1 bird flu outbreak

Written by: Staff
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TISOVA, Czech Republic, June 21 (Reuters) The Czech Republic said today it will cull several thousand turkeys at a farm after tests confirmed the country's first outbreak of a deadly form of bird flu in poultry.

The State Veterinary Administration said soldiers, police and veterinary officials were setting up quarantine zones around the affected farm in the village of Tisova, 150 km east of Prague.

The agency said test results released today confirmed an outbreak of the H5N1 type that is potentially deadly to humans.

Zbynek Semerad, head of the agency's animal protection unit, said in a live television interview there would be a ban on the movement of animals and animal products in the security zone and there would be heightened veterinary controls. About 1,600 out of about 6,000 turkeys at the farm have been killed by the virus, it said.

No turkeys from the farm have been distributed into the retail network, the news agency CTK said.

The Czechs found about a dozen cases of the H5N1 strain in swans last spring, but have never recorded any cases in poultry.

The H5N1 virus mainly affects birds, but experts fear it could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and lead to a pandemic.

So far, most human cases can be traced to direct or indirect contact with infected birds and hundreds of millions of birds have died or been culled.

Bird flu has been spreading through southeast Asia. Vietnamese authorities today reported a second human victim this month.

REUTERS SYU BD1757

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