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Iran confirmed its first outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus yesterday (14 February).

The outbreak was detected on 2 February when 153 dead whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) were found in the Anzali wetlands near the Caspian Sea port of Bandar-e Anzali.

Last year, whooper swans died in bird flu outbreaks in China, Mongolia and Romania.

So far this month, the virus has been detected in wild birds — including swans — in the first H5N1 outbreaks in Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and Italy.

Tests for H5N1 on swans that died in Hungary and Slovenia are also underway.

Iranian officials culled wild birds in a two-kilometre radius of the outbreak and have set up checkpoints to control the movement of poultry.

Although the outbreak is Iran's first to be confirmed, an unknown disease killed thousands of wild ducks in the north-west of the country in October 2005 (see Iran prepares for bird flu).

The H5N1 virus has killed 91 people since 2003.

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