H5N1 bird flu virus hits ducks, geese in northern Iran

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in ducks and geese in northern Iran after affecting swans there, but no human cases have been reported, an official was quoted on Friday as saying.

H5N1 is the bird flu strain that scientists worry could mutate into a form easily passed between humans. Iran first reported H5N1 in 2006, when the virus was found in wild swans in the northern province of Mazandaran.

“Laboratory tests ... confirmed that Iran’s wild and native birds had the H5N1 bird flu virus,” the student news agency ISNA quoted Mojtaba Norouzi, head of Iran’s Veterinary Organisation, as saying.

“The virus first seen in wild swans in the area ... has been found among native ducks and geese around the northern village of Barzanghib in Iran’s Mazandaran province.”

Norouzi said the situation was under control and authorities had culled all birds in the village. With thousands of migratory geese, ducks and other wildfowl heading for the province for the winter, local authorities are on high alert, he said.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Timothy Heritage