The virus is also suspected to have reached Romania, and test results are expected to reveal whether this is the case on Saturday.
Friday’s emergency meeting of the European Commission’s food and animal health committee will examine the risk that migratory birds might pose for the EU.
The EC has already banned the import of live birds from both Turkey and Romania, and the World Health Organisation said it is likely that the Romanian birds did carry the strain.
“We don’t want to create a panic at this point … it’s a highly pathogenic aggressive virus, but we in the European Union have to deal with that,” said EU health and consumer protection commissioner Markos Kyprianou.
EU foreign ministers will also discuss the bird flu threat when they meet next Tuesday.
Friday’s meeting will look at ways to reduce the chance of contact between wild birds and poultry in high-risk areas, which could include requiring some birds to be kept indoors.
The Turkish decision to ban hunting wild birds follows test results confirming that an outbreak of bird flu in the northwestern village of Kiziksa last week, suspected to have been caused by migratory birds, was the H5N1 strain of the virus deadly to humans.
Thousands of birds were slaughtered in a sealed-off zone around the village in efforts to contain the virus.
While the H5N1 strain does not spread easily between people, humans who come in contact sick birds can contract the virulent disease, which has killed more than 60 of the 120 people infected in southeastern Asia.
The EU has scrambled to stockpile anti-viral drugs and prevent a pandemic.
While warning against panic, the bloc’s executive branch immediately urged European governments to ensure that “at-risk” people are vaccinated against regular flu.
The head of the WHO earlier warned that it is just a matter of time before a global bird-flu epidemic broke out, saying results would be catastrophic.
“Such an outbreak would bring about disastrous results, which will be huge enough to dwarf those from SARS,” Lee Jong-Wook told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Bird flu confirmed
The call to the EU’s 25 nations to stockpile anti-viral drugs came after tests confirmed that the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
If confirmed in Romania, it would be the virus’ first entry into Europe.
The EU commission slapped on a ban on live bird imports on
Turkey on Monday after it found bird flu there but before it had confirmed the particular strain.
It took a similar measure early today against Romania after the presence of bird flu was confirmed, although further tests are under way to determine if that is also the H5N1 strain.
But only hours later came the bombshell: “We have received now confirmation that the virus found in Turkey is avian flu H5N1 high pathogenic virus,” Mr Kyprianou said.
“We will work today … with the assumption that this is also the case in Romania,” he added.–>
Bird flu toll
While avian influenza primarily affects birds, the H5N1 strain has killed more than 60 people in South-East Asia since 2003.
Scientists have warned that millions of people around the world could die if that virulent form of the virus crosses with human-flu strains to become highly contagious among people.
In Ankara, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag also urged calm.
“The well-prepared and timely intervention of the agriculture ministry has brought the bird-flu case … under control,” he said.
“Naturally, our country has to be cautious, careful and ready (for a possible pandemic), but there is nothing beyond that at the moment.”
A senior official underlined that no human cases have been reported in Turkey so far, and the health ministry has ordered fresh stocks on the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu in a bid to prevent a flu pandemic.
But in a sign of public alarm, Romanians were reported to be flocking to pharmacies for flu jabs.
“In the absence of medicines against avian flu, people are massively buying vaccines against common flu,” said Mihaela Toader, a pharmacist in the capital Bucharest.
In Serbia people snapped up thousands of face masks, and in Germany pharmacists were reporting a surge in demand for Tamiflu and Relenza anti-virals.
In Bulgaria, farm minister Nihat Kabil said today that initial tests, ordered after the suspected outbreaks in Romania and Turkey, and after suspect bird deaths were reported near the Romanian border, had so far proved negative.