China and Europe face new avian flu outbreaks

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

China has announced a new outbreak of avian flu today along with similar cases in Russia, Romania, and Macedonia.

China's news agency reported that 2,600 birds have died of the H5N1 strain in northern China, declaring that the outbreak was found in a breeding facility in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. The government maintains the epidemic is under control.

Russia is waiting for confirmation that it was the H5N1 strain that killed several hundred ducks near Moscow; if the tests return positive it will be a major spread of the virus across the Ural Mountains, into European Russia.

A small village in southern Macedonia also suspects the strain. Plans are already made to kill 10,000 birds to contain the outbreak.

Romania confirmed that there has been another outbreak in the Danube Delta area. The strain was confirmed there last weekend, whereupon 4,500 birds were destroyed.

H5N1 is the strain scientists fear could be transmitted from human to human, causing a flu pandemic. So far 50 people have died of it, all having worked closely with birds. It is not easy to pass the disease from bird to human.

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