BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union (search) on Thursday said the bird flu virus found in Turkish poultry was the H5N1 strain that scientists worry might mutate into a human virus and spark a pandemic.
"We have received now confirmation that the virus found in Turkey is an avian flu H5N1 virus (search)," said EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou. "There is a direct relationship with viruses found in Russia, Mongolia and China."
Kyprianou said precautionary measures being assessed are to warn people traveling to countries where the disease has been diagnosed to avoid "going to farms, coming in contact with wild birds and so on."
The H5N1 bird flu strain does not easily infect humans, but 117 people, mostly poultry workers, have caught it over the last two years and 60 of them have died. Scientists are tracking the spread of the virus in birds because it could mutate into a dangerous human pandemic strain.
Elsewhere, experts confirmed that a strain of the bird flu virus has been found in samples taken from dead birds in Romania's Danube Delta (search), the agriculture minister said Thursday.
The samples are being sent to Britain to identify the specific strain. So far there are no indications it is the H5N1 strain.
"We hope it's a low intensity virus," said Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur. "We are continuing measures to isolate the affected area."
The Interior Ministry has extended a quarantine in the village of Ceamurlia de Jos, where the infected fowl was found, to people. Only authorities are allowed to enter and exit the remote village, which is located in the east of the delta, close to the Black Sea.