Tests Confirm Bird Flu at German Poultry Farm

Tests have found that birds at a poultry farm in southern Germany died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, and some 160,000 birds were being slaughtered as a precaution, authorities said.

The virus was detected in ducklings at the farm near Erlangen, in northern Bavaria. A federal lab confirmed that the birds died of the "highly pathogenic" H5N1 variant, the state consumer protection ministry said Saturday.

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More than 400 birds had died over a short period of time at the farm, ministry spokeswoman Sandra Brandt said. Authorities planned to start Saturday evening with the slaughter of the 160,000 birds at the farm.

Several cases of the virus have surfaced among wild birds in Germany this year. Last month, it was detected in a domestic goose in the east of the country.

The H5N1 virus has killed more than 190 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

It remains hard for humans to catch, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a global pandemic. So far, most human cases have been traced to contact with infected birds.