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Vienna zoo puts 20 pelicans to sleep after bird flu virus found

VIENNA, March 10 (Reuters) - An Austrian zoo culled 20
pelicans on Friday after it found the entire group was infected
with the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus, the zoo said.

Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo tested its pelican flock, one of
the largest of any zoo worldwide, after the virus was found in
one pelican earlier this week.

The virus has spread widely across Europe and the Middle
East since late last year, leading to the slaughter of hundreds
of thousands of poultry and the confinement of flocks indoors.

The zoo's Dalmatian pelicans had been kept in a tent since
December as a preventive measure but one of them became acutely
ill on Monday and was killed.

"To protect the remaining bird stock we had to put down all
pelicans this morning," zoo veterinarian Thomas Voracek said.

The bird house, the rainforest house and the desert house at
the zoo will remain closed to the public.

Latest figures from the European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control have found no human infections of the
H5N8 strain.

In November, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said human
infection with the virus could not be excluded but the
likelihood remained low.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Julia Glover)

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