Health officials in the Republic of Cyprus remain on alert after cases of avian flu have been detected on the island, where two private farm owners are self-monitoring and about a thousand birds are to be killed out of an abundance of caution.
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According to the state's Veterinary Department, bird flu cases have been detected at two private waterfowl collections in Paralimni, Famagusta district.
The specific strain of influenza has been detected in birds but no humans were known to have been infected according to Health Ministry spokesperson Constantinos Athanasiou.
The spokesperson told Knews on Tuesday that the owners at the two locations have been told to self-monitor out of an abundance of caution, adding that so far they had not shown any symptoms.
'A case can be confirmed only after a person has developed symptoms, and this is not the case' Athanasiou said
“A case can be confirmed only after the person has developed symptoms, and this is not the case now,” Athanasiou said, adding that in case there is a need for scientific confirmation, a molecular test can be done at Nicosia General Hospital.
But state officials on the island are not taking any chances.
Veterinary Department Deputy Director Yiannos Ioannou told local television that about 1000 birds, including chicken, ducks, and waterfowls, will have to be put down in order to eliminate the possibility of spreading to other facilities in the broader industry.
“The two private collections are fenced farms which are open above, those birds were free outdoors and the disease was transmitted by wild birds that came over and mingled with the others, so yes, they have to be put down otherwise this will continue to be a focus of infection,” Ioannou said.
He also said the farmers had alerted authorities after noticing a large number of birds got sick.
Local medical experts said infection can take place when humans are in direct contact with contaminated birds, adding that the disease is not transferred when people consume poultry.
But officials said the strict measures were being taken in order to protect the industry and also reduce the chance that a virus could mutate to a point where it can be transferred between humans.
Avian influenza resembles common flu while people handling poultry are at a higher risk of getting infected and in some cases bird flu can be more severe for humans.
Bird flu is usually transported from one country to another through migratory birds.
A number of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan have been experiencing outbreaks recently while first human cases were reported in a number of countries over the last two years.
Story has been updated to clarify suspected human cases of bird flu in Cyprus have not been confirmed