Iran on Monday denied it had any cases of bird flu in spite of announcing it was culling “all birds” within 10 km of the border with Turkey, where four people have died from the virus.
Tehran’s action comes as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome warned that the disease had probably passed on to Turkey’s neighbours, including Syria, Georgia and Armenia as well as Iran. The agency also cited Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria as at risk.
“There is no reason to believe that the virus which has been detected in the east of Turkey...has not already passed the border,” Samuel Jutzi, director of the FAO animal production and health division, said.
Hossein Hassani, head of Iran’s veterinary organisation, told the IRNA agency that no positive case had been identified in 52,000 samples of birds culled already.
Dr Homayoon Hamidi, head of the veterinary office in Maku, 50km from Dogubayazit, where the deaths in Turkey occurred, said his staff were killing domestic fowl in about 44 villages. “Villagers are scared and so avoiding any contact with chickens so they’re co-operating well with us,” he said.
In Tehran’s bazaar, bird flu and the wintry weather are discussed more than the international row over Iran’s nuclear programme.
■ An Israeli hospital was on Monday testing for bird flu a Palestinian from east Jerusalem after five chickens he tended died, Reuters reports.