Turkey this week announced 10 additional cases of bird flu in humans, bringing the total in that country to 14. Birds have also spread the disease to other parts of Europe and Asia.
At the Sarpi border crossing in northeastern Turkey, officials in neighboring Georgia are spraying vehicles with disinfectant in an attempt to check the spread of avian flu. To the east of Turkey, Iran is also taking preventive measures.
One person commented, "I was trying to go to Iran, but they did into allow us to get into Iran. They are saying we have the disease [bird flu].
Across the Black Sea from Turkey, Ukrainian officials on Tuesday confirmed another outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus in three poultry farms on the Crimean peninsula. Ukraine has also implemented a plan to help prevent the spread of this disease from Turkey, which has 15 confirmed cases of avian flu in humans. Most of the victims are children. Two individuals have died.
Turkey's prime minister says the outbreak is now under control. The Turkish victims all apparently acquired the disease from direct contact with poultry, migratory birds, or their excrement. While transmission of bird flu between humans has not occurred, the World Health Organization cautions that the virus could mutate, in which case, person-to-person transmission could lead to an influenza pandemic and millions of deaths worldwide. It describes the rapid spread of the flu among birds as a serious public health issue.
Turkey says it has eliminated more than 300,000 fowl. The World Health Organization says prompt elimination of poultry in Hong Kong nine years ago averted bird flu pandemic. Nonetheless, some Turks are hesitant to kill their birds.
A bird farmer expressed his concerned about the lost of his investment, "We have bought birds for 500 to 600 new lira [roughly $400 to $500 US] and they tell us that they have to come to take them away. So who will pay for them?"
Meanwhile, Dr. Henk Bekedam, World Health Organization representative in China, reports another death in that country -- in an area where there was no reported flu epidemic in birds.
"We have been informed by the Ministry of Health that there is now an eighth human case confirmed in China. Again in Hunan Province. This is now the seventh case in China that has not been forewarned by a poultry outbreak."
Dr. Bekedam added that more cases are expected in China.