Excerpt from report by Agron Halitaj entitled "Avian flu affects Serbia, threatens Kosova" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 3 March
Prishtina [Pristina], 2 March: Avian flu has come closer to Kosova [Kosovo] than ever before. Officials in Serbia admitted for the first time on Thursday [2 March] that a dead swan found in the area of Backi Monostor, Sombor Municipality, has been diagnosed with the flu.
As soon as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development of Kosova heard about this, it decided to ban imports of poultry and poultry products from that country [Serbia]. Ministry spokesperson Jusuf Salihu confirmed this, saying that the decision to ban poultry imports is automatic not only for Serbia, but for every country that is affected by this deadly virus.
"This is done as a measure to prevent the spread of the H5N1 virus in our country and, as such, it is envisioned within the government's operational plan to fight and prevent avian flu in Kosova," Salihu said.
So far this ministry has banned imports of poultry from Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Slovenia, Greece and a number of Asian states.
But the Kosovar authorities consider the case confirmed in Serbia to be the most serious alarm signal received from the neighbouring states thus far.
The avian flu in Serbia was confirmed following tests carried out at the Veterinary Institute of Novi Sad and the Specialized Veterinary Institute in Kraljevo. The Serbian media have reported that the samples will also be sent for confirmation to the Weybridge laboratory in England.
Last week, UNMIK [UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen said that it is only a matter of days before Kosova is affected by avian flu. Jusuf Dedushaj, director of the National Institute of Public Health, confirmed the same thing, saying the appearance of this disease in the surrounding countries proves that it is an illusion to think that we will not be affected by avian flu.
Being on the front line in the war against avian flu, the Ministry of Agriculture has taken a number of preventive measures already. [Passage omitted]
Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 3 Mar 06