Turkey has slaughtered about three thousand turkeys and chickens after reporting its first outbreak of the flu.

“The detection of avian influenza in Turkey is very worrying, given its proximity to EU borders,” said EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

The EU is also waiting for test results from a suspected outbreak in Romania’s Danube Delta region.

Switzerland, Bosnia and Croatia have also imposed bans on poultry imports from Turkey and Romania as they are not part of the EU.

Hungary and Poland have only implemented a ban on Romanian birds.

Turkey’s health ministry has downplayed the threat to human health, stressing that the incidence of bird flu in poultry is not worrying.

Mr Kyprianou said the ban was only a temporary decision as the EU waits for final confirmation on Wednesday.

Figures show the ban will have little impact as no live poultry or fresh meat was imported from Turkey in 2004.

The bird flu virus is thought to spread among poultry, but a strain known as H5N1 has killed at least 60 people in southeast Asia.

The ban on Turkey and Romania came amid a new warning against complacency.

International health officials said all countries must make transparent, cooperative efforts to prepare for a bird flu pandemic.

Leading a delegation across southeast Asia, US Health Secretary, Mike Leavitt, said countries could benefit from being open about a bird flu outbreak.

The World Health Organisation’s Director-General, Jong Wook Lee said the UN body is certain there will be a bird flu pandemic.

“Right now, the only one condition missing is the virus that is rapidly transmitted from human to human,” Mr Lee said.

He said the world had a duty to get ready as the H5N1 virus is very similar to the Spanish flu that killed tens of millions in 1918.

“We cannot imagine what will be the impact when the so-called mild pandemic hits us, so clearly we have to be ready,” he said.

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