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Germany Dispatches Troops, India Slaughters Chickens in Attempt to Stem Bird Flu


Germany has dispatched troops to a northern island to clear away dead birds, as Indian officials are slaughtering hundreds of thousands of chickens in a massive effort to control that country's first outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Germany deployed troops Monday to the Baltic island of Ruegen, where scores of wild birds were found dead from the disease.

German soldiers also are disinfecting people and equipment leaving the region.

Six European Union member nations, Germany, France, Austria, Greece, Italy and Slovenia, have found the H5N1 strain in birds. Many European countries have ordered their flocks indoors.

EU agriculture ministers met today in Brussels to discuss ways of fighting the flu epidemic, including vaccinating birds.

In India, health workers took control of a huge culling operation in a western region after farmers without protective gear were seen killing poultry. Authorities confirmed the outbreak in birds Saturday after at least 30,000 chickens were found dead in Nandurbar district, in western Maharashtra state.

Bird flu has killed more than 90 people since 2003 in Asia, Turkey and Iraq.

Indian authorities say they have sent 11,000 doses of Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug used to treat ordinary cases of flu, but that no human cases of the flu have been found.

Experts fear the deadly H5N1 virus could mutate, making it possible for the virus to cause a global human pandemic.

In France, Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau is urging consumers to keep eating chicken, assuring them it is safe to eat properly-cooked meat. France reported its first bird flu case Saturday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.