A Pox of Fear on Europe's Farms

Although commercial birds rarely contract avian flu virus, many consumers have stopped buying fowl -- and it's costing poultry producers mightily

Avian flu scare stories pop up in the European press every day. Since the beginning of March, new cases of the dangerous H5N1 virus have been discovered among waterfowl in Switzerland, Poland, Greece, and northern Bavaria. Transmission from wild birds to farmed poultry is still scarce, but in late February, France reported infected turkeys on a farm in the southeast. Cats in Germany and Austria also have contracted the disease, after eating infected birds, and it has spread for the first time to another mammal in Germany, a rodent called a stone marten.

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