German authorities have confirmed the country’s first case of avian influenza in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The authorities ordered the slaughter of tens of thousands of birds over the weekend following a suspected case in the area.

“We have confirmed the presence of the bird flu virus,” a spokeswoman for the government virology agency told Reuters.

Meanwhile the European Commission has adopted control measures to contain the outbreak in Germany.

Following the discovery of a suspected case of bird flu in Germany on 9 May, the Commission adopted a decision today to reinforce the control measures already put in place by the German authorities.

The German authorities, in co-operation with the Commission services, have already put in place measures including a halt to the transport of live poultry and hatching eggs in North Rhine-Westphalia and a ban on dispatching any live poultry or hatching eggs from the area.

The Commission measures are applicable until 16 May. The situation will be reviewed at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health scheduled for 15 May 2003. This meeting includes representatives of the Member States and the Commission. The urgent measures adopted by the Commission could then be updated to take into account the development of the situation.