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About 43,000 fowl were destroyed in Kibbutz Ein Shemer yesterday, after some were diagnosed with avian flu. The Agriculture Ministry announced a quarantine in all poultry enclosures within a 10-kilometer radius of the Caesarea-area kibbutz. Lab samples have been collected from 120 bird flocks in eight communities in the area.

Eight birds died in the kibbutz as early as 10 days ago, coop supervisor Bennie Tzemach said. He said a veterinarian was called to the scene, and the dead chickens were taken for lab tests, which raised suspicions of avian flu.

The deaths continued despite the distribution of antibiotics, and yesterday the decision was made to kill all the birds. The Agriculture Ministry's flora and fauna monitoring unit killed the fowl and buryed them in two sterilized pits nearby.

"For the moment, we are only destroying fowl in the immediate outbreak zone," said the unit director Roey Kliger. He said that quarantine orders were handed out to poultry concerns in Ein Iron, Kfar Pines, Metzer, Maanit, Gan Shomron, Barkai, Pardes Hanna and Karkur.

The ministry said that the range of symptoms for avian flu is extremely wide. The avian flu could be manifested in fowl as a respiratory disease, digestive tract disease, or neurological disease. The flu is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly. Early symptoms are reduced appetite and egg-laying, with coughing and bloated heads following soon after.

The disease could also result in sudden death without any early symptoms.

Avian flu can be dangerous to humans coming in direct contact with infected fowl, and 200 people have died around the world since 2003 from the disease. The disease has the same symptoms as a strong flu for humans, is not transferred person to person.