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European Poultry Is Safe to Eat in Europe


European Poultry Is Safe to Eat in Europe. - Northern Nigeria Slaughters 150,000 Birds in an Effort to Control the Spread of the Avian flu Virus

The potentially deadly H5N1 avian flu virus spread more widely in Europe and Africa this week. Juan Lubroth, who heads the infectious diseases group for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, says 150,000 birds were slaughtered at 30 farms in northern Nigeria, part of an effort to control the spread of the virus.

"Currently there is a restriction of movements out of Kano and Kaduna states," Lubroth says. "The restrictions of movements appear well on paper, but on the ground it seems that they are not really holding movement of animals or infected products in and out of those states."

Lubroth says neighboring African countries are at increased risk unless these restrictions are put into place. The deadly virus has also been found in wild birds - not poultry - in Italy and Greece.

Early detection and control measures have been effective in Europe, according to, the head of FAO's Animal Health Division, Samuel Jutzi. "There is no reason to panic in Europe," he says. "Europe has vigorous veterinary services, which are monitoring the situation carefully. Poultry in Europe, (and) poultry products are safe to eat."

The H5N1 virus has killed 90 people and led to the deaths of 140 million chickens. It remains essentially an animal disease. The virus would have to mutate before it could be passed easily from person to person, and cause a global pandemic.

Public health officials advise people to avoid contact with infected birds, to wash hands after touching poultry and to cook chicken products thoroughly.

At a donor's meeting in Beijing in January, nations pledged $1.9 billion to stop the spread of avian influenza.