Iowa Public Television


Turkey's Government Does What It Can to Beat Bird Flu

posted on January 20, 2006

The World health Organization announced earlier this week that it expects to see fewer human cases of bird flu in Turkey as the government destroys poultry and warns people to avoid contact with sick fowl. At least 21 people have been infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain in the country so far this year, and four children have died.

Turkey has destroyed about 1 million birds in an attempt to limit contact with humans in this largely rural country, where most villagers raise chickens, turkeys and geese. The virus has thus far only jumped from poultry to people, killing at least 79 people in east Asia and Turkey since 2003. But, experts fear the strain could mutate into a form spread easily among humans, triggering a pandemic capable of killing millions.

The crisis has hit Turkey's poultry industry hard, with authorities saying sales have plunged by 70 percent. The $3 billion industry employs 100,000 people. Producers have learned that the industry could lose $30 million a month if the crisis continues. They are demanding tax incentives, low-interest credits and government compensation to destroy millions of older chickens that no longer produce eggs at professional poultry farms. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has urged people not to stop eating chicken and eggs from professional poultry farms, saying the disease has been confined to birds raised in the open in people's gardens.

Tags: agriculture animals birds chickens diseases influenza news poultry Turkey