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EU experts: Avian influenza outbreak in north isolated incident
2006-02-14 15:26:14

By Nicos Bellos

Brussels, Feb 13 (CNA) – The outbreak of avian influenza in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus last month was of an isolated nature and is so far contained by effective measures implemented by the veterinary services in the occupied areas, said a report here Monday of the two European Commission experts who visited the island last month.

At the same time they noted that the source of infection could not be established and it remains unexplainable why a disease of such infectious nature has so far remained an isolated incidence.

The experts, from the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Unit of the European Commission, in a summary report of their initial assessment mission in the occupied areas after the high pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 was confirmed in a sample, said that from the information they have been given and obtained themselves, “we conclude that the outbreak is of an isolated nature and is so far contained by effective measures implemented by the veterinary services in the northern part of Cyprus”.

The experts noted that “a source of infection could not be established”, stressing that “it remains unexplainable why a disease of this infectious nature has so far remained an isolated incidence”.

In their report, the experts said they asked “the veterinary administration to collect a list of all villages within the 10 km surveillance area and of all holdings and bird numbers within each village”.

This list, they remarked, “is needed to work out a plan for later serological testing of those birds, to commence mid-February 2006”.

In the meantime, the report added, “faecal sample testing within this area should be continued, using egg inoculations rather than the “Rapid Test”.

In the report, the experts said they have “asked the veterinary administration in the northern part of Cyprus to give us a copy of the autopsy report of 12-1-2006 and of the report by Bornova Veterinary Diagnostic and Research Laboratory (Turkey)”.

In their preliminary remark, the experts stressed that any reference in the report to any “services”, “bodies” and “authorities” in the northern part of Cyprus, is to allow a clear understanding of the administrative structures but without any intention to recognise the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied north.

Earlier today, head of the Veterinary Services of the Republic, George Neofytou told CNA that according to the information the services have and the epidemiological survey, we have concluded there was no bird flu incident in Cyprus”.

''Had it been the case it would have been diagnosed elsewhere”, he noted.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

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