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Suspected bird flu hits Finnish gulls

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HELSINKI (AFX) - Finland reported Friday its first case of bird flu, found in gulls in the northwest of the country, but said the strain did not carry any risks for humans.

"Several gulls, living and dead, were taken at Oulu for analysis and the suspect virus was found in these birds," agriculture ministry official Riitta Heinonen told the STT/FNB news agency.

But she said the strain was not the H5N1 type which can infect humans and has killed 61 people in southeast Asia since 2003.

The final results of the analysis should be known in three weeks.

The announcement by the Finnish authorities was made a day after European Union veterinary experts met to consider steps after the appearance of bird flu in Russia.

Since 2002 Finland has taken regular blood samples from poultry and also analysed the feathers of wild birds.

The 2006 operation, which led to the discovery of the virus in the gulls, has just begun.

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Copyright 2005 AFX News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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