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2006 World Cup may be cancelled, if bird flu pandemic hits Germany: official

Berlin, Feb 21, IRNA-The 2006 World Cup could be called off, if there is a bird flu pandemic in Germany, a senior German politician and a leading expert of the World Health Organization (WHO) were quoted as saying in the press on Tuesday.

The chairwoman of the agricultural committee of the German Parliament, Baerbel Hoehn said she would contemplate such a move, if there are mass cases of human avian influenza detected in Germany over the next few months.

Meanwhile the WHO director of the influenza program, Klaus Stoehr agreed with Hoehn's assessment in the event of such a likely scenario ahead of the 2006 World Cup, due to run from June 9 through July 9.

"If a pandemic breaks out, one has to think very carefully what to do. This is no doomsaying," Stoehr said.

At least 91 people have died from the bird flu, mostly in Asia nd the Middle East since 2003, according to statistics released by the WHO.

In other related news, the German government has sent 250 soldiers to the northern Baltic island of Ruegen where they are to help volunteers to collect hundreds of dead birds infected with the H5N1 virus.

Troops are also disinfecting vehicles and persons leaving the crisis island.

The bird flu has already reached the German mainland but has not spread yet to domestic poultry.

The bird flu virus was found last Tuesday after authorities discovered two dead swans off the Baltic Sea coast on the island of Ruegen.

As a consequence of the bird flu outbreak, Germany has issued a ban on keeping poultry outdoors.

Health officials have advised the public not to eat food products which are prepared with raw eggs.

... Payvand News - 2/22/06 ... --

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