Serbian authorities report first suspected bird flu case

Serbia’s agriculture ministry said today that initial tests conducted on a wild swan found in northwestern Serbia revealed that it had died of the H5 strain of bird flu.

Serbia’s agriculture ministry said today that initial tests conducted on a wild swan found in northwestern Serbia revealed that it had died of the H5 strain of bird flu.

Samples from the bird – found on February 28 near the border with Croatia - will be sent to the EU reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, to determine whether the bird had the lethal H5N1 strain, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

The agriculture ministry said it was the first suspected bird flu case in Serbia. Several cases of the deadly bird flu strain have already been recorded in poultry and birds in neighbouring Romania, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Hungary.

“There is no reason for panic, but just for caution,” Serbia’s Health Minister Tomica Milosavljevic said.

The dead swan was found near the Danube river in Backi Monostor, about 106 miles northwest of Belgrade, the authorities said, adding that the region was declared “a crisis zone".

They said all measures preventing the spread of the disease, including an order to keep all poultry indoors, will be implemented throughout Serbia even before the results of the final tests are known.

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