A deadly strain of the bird flu virus has infected chickens in northern Israel, local daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website on Thursday.
According to the report, the virus was found at a kindergarten petting zoo in the northern Israeli city of Binyamina, more than ten kilometers south to the city of Haifa.
The report said 18 of the 25 chickens in the petting zoo were found dead earlier Thursday morning.
The Haifa District Physician Prof. Shmuel Rishpon confirmed that the chickens were infected by the H5N1 bird flue virus.
Rishpon was quoted as saying that "The kindergarten staff has been given preventive medicines and as far as we know, none of the children or their parents came in contact with the birds."
He added that the virus can only be transmitted by direct contact, and the hospitals in the area have been alerted to look out for any children or adults coming in with bird flu-like symptoms.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli Agriculture Ministry announced it was putting all chicken coops and hatcheries within a six-mile (9.6 kilometers) radius under quarantine.
The Ministry's poultry disease division was quoted as saying that it is testing all poultry in the quarantined area, but so far have no further reports on any dead birds."
(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2008)