14 February, 2006
Veterinary authorities around the country on Monday continued to collect samples from dead wild fowl and poultry in the wake of the first positive results of "bird flu" detected in Greece, and specifically in three dead swans found in a border prefecture last week.
Authorities in the greater Athens area were especially concentrating on taking samples from migratory water fowl -- ducks, geese etc. -- with a directive listing preventative measures sent to park officials and hunting clubs.
Authorities in the northeastern border prefecture of Evros, where the infected swans were found, also stepped up testing in the area and continued efforts to disinfect vehicles and trains entering the prefecture from neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey.
Good news, meanwhile, came from the northern city of Thessaloniki, where two individuals that had reportedly come into contact with sick birds over the recent period, before coming down with flu-like symptoms, tested negative for "avian influenza".
The first individual, a 29-year-old man, is a reportedly a duck hunter, while the second, a 15-year-old youth, brought an ailing bird into his home nine days ago. A second round of testing is pending.
A European Commission representative, replying to a relevant question here on Monday, said that it has been confirmed by the European Union's laboratory in London that a wild goose found dead on Skyros checked positive for the H5N1 virus.
The representative added that the European Commission does not intend to issue an additional announcement on the issue, but stressed that protection and surveillance measures which must be taken in the region will be the same as those applied in Thessaloniki and Pieria.
The finding of the bird flu virus in a handful of migratory birds is not expected to affect the country's touristic image abroad, Greece's Tourism ministry said on Monday.
A ministry announcement said it was stressing the fact that only migratory birds have been found infected with the virus so far in Greece.
The announcement noted that Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos' recent visit to the United States offered positive results and underlined an increasing trend of US tourists arriving to Greece this year. Greece-based sea cruises were also high in demand, the ministry said.
Avramopoulos addressed the 15th annual congress of the Greek-American Organization Leadership 100 in Florida on Sunday.
Source: Athens News Agency