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German authorities take quick action on flu threat

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

German police and border control authorities have stepped up checks on incoming tourist traffic from eastern Europe, in the wake of reports of the spread of avian flu cases in Turkey (see this issue, page 1). The authorities have banned the import of feathers and poultry from Turkey and all its neighbouring countries, which include Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Azerbaijan. Germany is mulling whether to reintroduce indoor poultry-keeping only. Checks on incoming traffic were intensified on January 9, when buses arriving in the Rhine/Main region from eastern Europe were stopped for passenger and luggage checks. Some 50 police and 15 customs officers confiscated some 300 kg of meat in checks on traffic from Croatia, Russia, Romania and Turkey. State and federal authorities were due to meet on January 12 to assess the threat of introduction of the disease via wildfowl. Meanwhile, the authorities are issuing common-sense advice to travellers, while stressing that no human-to-human transmission has occurred or been proven. They urge avoidance of contact with poultry and meat markets and not to eat raw eggs. Germany has the largest Turkish population in western Europe. Fears of the disease's spread to western Europe were raised when it was reported that cases of bid flu had been reported in Istanbul's eastern suburb of Kucukcekme.

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