Tehran, Iran Iran on Tuesday said 135 wild swans died of bird flu in marshlands near the Caspian Sea in the country's first case of the spreading virus, and officials in Germany and Austria said the virus apparently had reached there as well.
The disease's likely spread to three new countries follows the recent deaths of humans from the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Turkey and Iraq, Iran's neighbors, and the march of the disease into European countries Greece and Italy.
Olympic officials in Italy said bird flu posed no threat to the Turin Olympics, but a Nigerian official warned that bird flu was fast spreading in that country, and a U.N. expert said the strain may have surfaced in a second African country.
Bird flu has killed at least 91 people since 2003, according to the World Health Organization.
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the country's Veterinary Organization as saying that "international laboratory results" confirmed the wild swans died from bird flu. It did not name or give the location of the laboratory.
Two dead swans in northern Germany were found on the island of Ruegen, and regional agriculture ministry spokeswoman Iris Uellendahl said a preliminary test showed they died of H5N1.
Samples from the birds were being taken to an EU laboratory in Britain for a definitive test, Uellendahl said.
Two birds found dead in Austria appear to also have been infected with the H5N1 strain. Hans Seitinger, a health official for Styria province, said there was a 70 percent chance that H5N1 had reached the country, according to results from preliminary tests carried out on samples from 21 birds.