Georgian tests confirm bird flu

A health official said today that a local laboratory confirmed bird flu in dead fowl in Georgia.

Officials were awaiting confirmation from a British laboratory on the exact strain.

Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said tests were conducted on the remains of 10 swans found dead on a lake shore in the Adzharia region of southwest Georgia, which borders Turkey and the Black Sea.

David Mekhishvili, administration chief of the Labour, Health and Social Welfare Ministry, told Rustavi-2 television: “Unfortunately, bird flu has been confirmed. But like all other countries, we, too, are required to send analyses to London … for confirmation.”

The chief of the Agriculture Ministry’s veterinary department, Dzhambul Maglakelidze, said the British lab results should make clear whether the suspected bird flu strain in Georgia is H5N1.

H5N1 can be fatal to humans. It has killed at least four children in Turkey and has been identified in birds in Azerbaijan, which borders Georgia to the east.

The Georgian government today banned all trade in live birds on its territory and instructed the country’s police to enforce the prohibition, Nogaideli said.

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