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Macedonia 'orders bird flu tests'

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Samples from a dead bird have been sent to London for testing after a large number of birds died in the Macedonian city of Bitola near the border with Greece, a member of Macedonia's parliament said.

Gorgi Orovcanec, who is also former minister of health, said that while "many" birds died only one was suspected of having "some kind of disease."

The development comes after confirmed cases of the deadly H5N1 avian flu were detected in Romania and Turkey and a suspected case was found in Greece.

To limit any potential cases of bird flu, the Macedonian government ordered the extermination of all poultry in a 2 km radius of the village, Orovcanec said. That adds up to approximately 10,000 birds.

Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia.

Another member of parliament, former foreign affairs minister Slobodan Casule, said dead poultry had also been found near the town of Kumanovo.

He said many of the birds may have died from different diseases such as salmonella and plague and not bird flu.

Casule said Macedonians feel that "the government is dragging its feet in terms of a protection strategy against the bird flu."

The Macedonian government has allocated 1 million euros for defense against bird flu. Casule said that while no bird flu cases have been found in Macedonia, the public is scared, which could make it hard to control disease in the country.

Macedonian authorities hope to organize a regional conference to develop a common strategy for prevention and to fight against bird flu.

Union foreign ministers on Tuesday declared the spread of bird flu from Asia into Europe a "global threat" requiring international action.

The meeting issued a statement saying bird flu posed a serious, global health threat if it shifted from birds to humans and one that required "a coordinated international reaction."

However, European Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said that the presence of bird flu in southeastern Europe did not increase the risk of a pandemic. (Full story)

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