Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingAfter two days of emergency discussion, vets from the European Union agree to take new measures to prevent the spread of the deadly bird flu virus. Experts will monitor wild migratory birds more closely and border checks will be enforced to ensure no poultry products from Romania or Turkey enter the EU.
The most dangerous strain of bird flu is now knocking on Europe's door. There's now concern the virus will spread at jet speed. The fastest way for a contagious disease to travel around the world is by air.
Migratory birds are spreading a lethal strain of bird flu from Asia to the outer fringes of Europe. The strain, known as H5N1, is now confirmed in Turkey and is most likely the culprit in Romania, where officials are rounding up and killing the fowl they believe to be infected.
Marc Siegel, M.D., Internist: "It's increased in the bird population, but the key is controlling it in the bird population. The chances are that some virus will mutate so it can go human to human but it might not be this one."
In the early 1900's the avian flu did jump to humans. The resulting pandemic killed up to fifty million people. Today, if this lethal strain does the same trick and allows human to human transmission, migratory birds won't be the only bodies in flight to spread the disease.
John Barry, Author of "The Great Influenza": "Air travel makes it much harder to contain, chiefly because somebody without any symptoms can still have influenza and communicate it to other people."
A lesson well learned from SARS, another disease that jumped species to become a highly contagious infectious disease in humans. In 2003, thanks to air travel, SARS spread to five countries in just twenty-four hours.
Thanks to SARS, many international airports are now equipped with quarantine units. Flight crews are instructed to identify anyone who appears sick, and those passengers are evaluated on the scene. However, you can be contagious without showing any symptoms.