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Deadly Bird Flu Discovered on Cyprus



The discovery forced the government in Nicosia to intensify protective measures against the disease.

The H5N1 strain was detected in one of two chickens, which were diagnosed with the broader H5 bird flu on last week, said Barbara Helfferich, a spokeswoman for the European Commission. The confirmation is the latest sign that the virus, so far mostly found in Asia, is spreading westward to the edges of Europe, health officials indicated.

In response to the news, the Cypriot government said that it would tighten controls against the disease, adding that crossings to the northern part would not be closed. Agriculture Minister Timis Efthymiou said that the EU, of which Cyprus is a member, has not imposed any bans on its poultry exports.

Cyprus is located 750 south of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula, where the deadly strain was discovered in early December 2005.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Kyiv assured over the weekend that the country is ready to deal with the possibility of a bird flu pandemic. Based on bird migratory patterns, Ukraine is among the countries with an increased risk of a bird flu pandemic in the spring, when massive bird populations begin to move.

The Ukrainian Health Ministry, the Ministry of Emergencies and the State Borderguard Service are urgently developing a coordinated action plan designed to tackle a worst-case scenario, officials said.

Ukrainian health officials have confirmed bird flu cases in 23 locations in Crimea and more than 150,000 domestic fowl have so far been culled in 40 locations around the Crimean peninsula.

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