Authorities on Friday quarantined a village in southeast Romania after two chickens tested positive for an H5 subtype of bird flu, the Agriculture Ministry said. The virus was detected late Thursday in tests in the village of Rovine, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Bucharest, in a sign that the virus could be spreading westward outside the Danube Delta, where the deadly H5N1 virus was confirmed in recent weeks.
The samples have been sent to a national laboratory for confirmation, but authorities have already culled hundreds of birds from about 40 households in the village. Further tests will also determine whether the virus is the deadly H5N1 strain, which has decimated poultry and killed at least 71 people, most of them farm workers, in Asia since 2003.
Authorities are watching its spread, for fear it could mutate into a form easily spread between humans. Such a development could spark a human flu pandemic. In Romania, the H5N1 strain was detected last month in the Danube Delta and has recently been confirmed in five villages outside the delta. Authorities have ordered villagers around the country to keep domestic birds indoors and issued stiff fines for those who disobey. Testing and monitoring domestic fowl has been expanded to a larger area, especially on migration routes. So far, Romanian authorities have killed 55,000 domestic birds in areas where the virus has been detected. The culling, compensation and other measures have cost authorities Ђ3.6 million (US$4.2 million) In recent months, birds in Turkey, Romania, Russia and Croatia have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain in birds, but no human cases have been detected on the continent, reports the AP. N.U.