Turkey tries to halt bird flu advance into Europe

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Turkish authorities were trying to reassure the world it had the outbreak of bird flu under control yesterday after preliminary tests showed that at least 15 people had been infected with the deadly H5N1 strain. Two of the victims were children, who have died.

Health officials handed out leaflets, and imams blared warnings from mosque loudspeakers, after the first human deaths outside eastern Asia, where bird flu has claimed 74 lives since 2003.

Jittery European governments sprayed disinfectant over lorries from Turkey. In Italy, a consumer group urged a ban on travel to Turkey, and in Greece, veterinary inspectors stepped up border checks. Neighbouring Bulgaria issued advice on how to cope.

Meanwhile, Turkey's government ordered more than 300,000 fowl to be killed and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "Everything is under control."