Tests confirm bird flu outbreak is deadly strain

Tests in Britain confirmed today that the bird flu outbreak in poultry in eastern Turkey is the deadly H5N1 strain.

Tests in Britain confirmed today that the bird flu outbreak in poultry in eastern Turkey is the deadly H5N1 strain.

Further testing is still underway to assess whether the human deaths related to the bird flu outbreak in Turkey were caused by H5N1.

The European Commission said its reference laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, had yet to confirm whether the human cases were linked to the H5N1 outbreak, but added that preliminary UN health agency tests confirmed that “some human cases of (the) disease were also caused by an avian influenza virus”.

“To clarify the epidemiological situation, laboratory tests are still being carried out in the EU and World Health Organisation-collaborating laboratories and further investigations are being carried out by the international expert team” which is visiting the affected areas in Turkey, the Commission said in a statement.

Turkish authorities have said there are about 30 suspected bird flu cases in humans in the affected area.

The British laboratory confirmed yesterday that the two teenagers who died in Turkey earlier this week had bird flu and WHO officials in Geneva said scientists were closing in on identifying the virus as the deadly H5N1 strain.

The strain has already killed more than 70 people in East Asia since 2003.

The European Commission reiterated that its import ban of live birds and poultry products from Turkey, first put in place in October, remains in place.

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