Germany says tests show two dead swans have bird flu strain

Two dead swans in northern Germany have preliminarily tested positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain, a government official said. If confirmed, it would be the country's first case.

The swans were found on the island of Ruegen and regional agriculture ministry spokeswoman Iris Uellendahl said Tuesday that a preliminary test showed it was H5N1.

Samples from the birds were being take to an EU laboratory in Britain for a definitive test, Uellendahl said. Poultry within 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) of where the dead swans were found would be tested, she said.

Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer ordered domestic poultry kept indoors beginning Friday, instead of Feb. 20 as previously ordered. Germany initially had planned to order all birds indoors for at least two months starting March 1.

Seehofer's order that domestic birds be kept indoors starting is intended to prevent migrating wild fowl from possibly spreading the virus.

Authorities had issued the order after they determined there was a heightened risk following the discovery of H5N1 in dead swans in Italy and Greece, the first time the highly infectious strain had been detected in the 25-member, reports the AP.

I.L.