March 11, 2009
German authorities have discovered the first case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus this year, the European Commission announced Tuesday (March 10).
The virus was discovered in a wild duck shot during a hunt near Starnberg, in Bavaria, the first case found in a wild bird for over a year, the commission said in a statement.
Around 250 people have died of the human form of avian flu since 2003, according to the World Health Organization.
Most had close contact with sick birds, but scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that would spread rapidly among humans, causing a pandemic.
The last bird flu case of any kind in Europe was discovered at a German farm in Saxony, near the Polish border, last October.
The latest discovery of the disease came after samples were taken from 35 ducks and four Canada geese during the hunt, as part of routine surveillance measures, and one of the ducks produced a positive result.
The last wild-bird case of avian influenza in Europe was found by UK authorities in a Canada goose on Feb. 29, 2008.