Speaking at Justice & Development Party (AKP) group meeting in Ankara, Erdogan said, ''unfortunately, 4 citizens died due to bird flu which was first seen in Dogubayazit town of (eastern city) Agri and later spread to other cities. The government will pursue its efforts in fight against bird flu.''
''After the virus was detected, leaders of several EU countries stated that they are ready to do their best to help Turkey. We have given all information (about bird flu cases) transparently. Turkish Agriculture & Rural Affairs Ministry, Health Ministry, and Environment & Forestry Ministry have been monitoring the incidents since the beginning,'' added Erdogan.
Recalling that first bird flu case was detected in October 2005 in Turkey, Erdogan said, ''thanks to cooperation with several international organizations, more than 10,000 poultry were culled and the virus was eliminated. Turkey is located on route of migratory birds and this is one of the most important reasons of spread of bird flu in our country. So the virus was again detected on December 15th, 2005.''
Erdogan noted, ''bird flu cases have been detected in 13 cities so far. There are suspected cases in 23 cities. Nearly 1 million poultry have been culled so far, and breeders were paid compensation. 20 citizens have tested positive for bird flu, 4 of them died and 5 of them were discharged from hospital after their treatment. 11 patients are still under treatment. We have joined International Influenza Surveillance Network for international cooperation against the flu.''
''We have improved infrastructure of regional laboratories in 14 cities. Today, we can examine all samples and detect type of viruses,'' added Erdogan.
He noted, ''we earlier informed our health personnel regarding the virus, and we also ordered 1 million boxes of medicines before bird flu cases were seen in our country. We distributed 15,000 boxes of medicine to cities where bird flu was detected. Also we bought 100,000 more boxes of medicine.''
Erdogan said, ''we have informed World Health Organization (WHO) about certain cases rapidly. WHO, in its reports about bird flu in Turkey on January 9th, 2006, stated that reference laboratories in Turkey have high test qualities, and the virus did not pass from human to human.''
Stressing the economic dimension of the issue, Erdogan said, ''bird flu has not been detected in integrated facilities in Turkey so far. The virus spreads from poultry which are fed in open spaces. Thus, our citizens can consume white meat and eggs which are produced in integrated facilities. Speculations should not be made to harm white meat sector.''
''Turkey is one of the 25-26 countries where bird flu was seen. The virus appeared in many countries before Turkey. It was seen in integrated facilities in Europe. The Netherlands culled 28 million, Belgium 14 million, Italy and the United States 10 million of poultry in their fight against bird flu,'' added Erdogan.
He said, ''citizens, especially children, should avoid direct contact with wild winged animals or poultry.''