Tourists tested for bird flu

Officials suspected the trio may have caught H5N1 when they visited a Thai zoo together and were in contact with birds there.

Initial tests carried out after their return to Reunion, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, had been positive.

French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said samples were being rushed to Paris for further tests.

“We will have results for the first patient tomorrow,” said Mr Bertrand.

Bali outbreak feared

Meanwhile Indonesia is investigating whether bird flu has broken out on Australia’s doorstep after dozens of chickens dropped dead on the island of Bali.

Anxious Indonesian officials are awaiting test results that could take days.

More than 25 birds have died in Padang Sambian, a village on the outskirts of Bali’s capital, Denpasar.

Nyoman Dibya, an official at the Bali livestock agency, said the chickens had the clinical symptoms of the H5N1 strain of the virus that has decimated poultry stocks across the sprawling archipelago.

“A full laboratory test is needed to accurately determine if the
birds had the deadly virus,” said Mr Dibya, adding that that could take another week.

If it turns out they did, agriculture and health officials will have to take “firm action” to prevent the disease from spreading across the resort island, Mr Dibya said.

Chinese girl dies of flu-like symptoms

A 12-year-old girl has died of flu-like symptoms in a village in China’s central province of Hunan.

He Yin and her 10-year-old brother fell ill about a week ago at their home in the village, Wantang.

According to their father they had eaten a sick chicken that had died, before turning ill.

So far there is no evidence linking her death with the outbreak of bird flu in Wantang and doctors have told the family she had died from fever.

China has yet to report a single confirmed human infection of the virus.

Croatia case confirmed

British laboratory tests revealed that dead swans found in Croatia’s rural northeast were infected with the virulent H5N1 strain of the virus.

Veterinary officials had largely anticipated the positive result, the first confirmed case in Croatia.

However it does little to ease deepening fears, with Europe on maximum alert for further spread of the H5N1 strain.

Australian travel bans planned

Interstate travel and public gatherings could be banned if an outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus happens in Australia.

Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott said the government is considering it is as part of plans in the event of a human pandemic within the country.

Preventing the spread

Chinese officials mobilised roadside sterilisation stations and inspected markets after 545 chickens and ducks died from H5N1 in the central province of Hunan.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said at least three of the 52 countries in its
European region had no national contingency plans to cope with a possible flu pandemic.

The country’s named were Macedonia, Moldova and the central Asian state of Turkmenistan, which falls within the region.

Authorities said preparedness was nonetheless improving dramatically across Europe, with all 25 European Union member states developing national emergency plans.

Most non-EU nations in the region were also making progress.

Bird flu had already been detected in Romania, Russia and Turkey. A westward sweep, health experts believed, was caused by birds migrating ahead of the winter.

So far Asia has bore the brunt of the disease where the H5N1 virus has killed 62 people in the last two years.

Though the virus spreads quickly between birds, it does not pass easily between humans.

However officials fear the virus will mutate with a human form of flu creating a strain that could be passed between humans.

The European Food Safety Authority said there was no proof people could catch the disease by eating chicken or eggs, but it advised people to properly cook such foods to avoid any risk.

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