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Bird flu fear in Curonian spit

  • 2007-07-20
  • From wire reports
KLAIPEDA - Cormorants have started dying on a large scale along the Kaliningrad section of the Curonian spit, it has been reported, sparking fears of an avian influenza outbreak.

According to the Vakaru Eskpresas newspaper in Klaipeda locals fear that if 'bird flu' is confirmed as the cause, it could quickly spread into Lithuania.

Russian authorities in Kaliningrad stated this week that the sudden bird deaths will be investigated and that samples will be taken for analysis.

Ornithologist at the Curonian Spit National Park, Gediminas Grazulevicius, said that as yet there are no signs of an outbreak on the Lithuanian side of the border.

"This is the first I have heard of it," he said, "Maybe these were young birds that just started dying from hunger. Everything is normal on our side. If they did die from bird flu then it is very bad because sick birds could reach Lithuania as well. Our birds also fly to Russia."

Specialist of the State Public Health Service, Bronius Morkunas, was doubtful about the claims that bird flu was the cause of the deaths. "Usually swans, ducks, and chickens catch bird flu, but not cormorants," he said.

Even though no cases of bird flu have been registered in Lithuania, veterinarians warn that the threat is real because of the numerous migration paths across the country.