February not feather-friendly
February is a cruel month for birds, wild and domestic.india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 02:21 IST
February is a cruel month for birds, wild and domestic. India is among 14 countries that have reported their first H5N1 infection cases in birds since the beginning of February, which indicates that the virus is spreading rapidly among poultry, says the World Health Organistaion. Many of the recent outbreaks were in Europe, where it's mostly wild birds that have tested positive for the disease.
After killing three ducks in Austria, the virus was detected in poultry in the European Union for the first time on Wednesday, with two chickens being infected in Austria and three swans dying of H5N1 in Hungary on Tuesday.
Within the first three weeks of this month, the killer disease has been reported in Iraq, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Iran, Austria, Germany, Egypt, India, France and Hungry. With this added tally, bird flu has spread to 31 countries across the world.
"The disease threatens to run rampant despite worldwide efforts to confine it. There has been a very rapid geographical spread of the virus this month as it has moved to several countries in Europe," says a WHO official.
Interestingly, the six ravens at the Tower of London have been moved inside for protection despite the legend that the British monarchy will fall if the ravens ever leave the Tower.
According to the WHO, most European countries with good veterinary surveillance have detected the virus in a small number of wild birds, with only Austria reporting it in domestic fowl.