Major new bird flu outbreaks reported in Asia

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Friday, November 4, 2005

A transmission electron micrograph of the Influenza virus. (Source: Dr. Erskine Palmer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library, image #280).

New outbreaks of the lethal H5N1 strain of the avian influenza have been documented in Vietnam and China. According to a Vietnamese animal health officer, 4,000 poultry and water fowl have died of the virus after October 25 in provinces 70 kilometres north of Hanoi. In China, 9,000 chickens and twenty wild birds have died of the virus in just over two weeks with more than 300,000 birds culled as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are planning on culling 180,000 chickens in response to the discovery of the first case of bird flu in the country in over a year. Most of Japan's previous avian influenza outbreaks have been due to the H5N2 strain, which poses no known threat to humans. The virus found in a farm north-east of Tokyo has been confirmed as belonging to the H5 family, but additional tests are needed to find out whether it is the H5N1 strain. A Japanese agriculture ministry official said that there was "little concern" of the virus being the H5N1 type as no case of the strain has previously been found in the area.

At least 60 people have died of the H5N1 strain in east Asia. Over 40 of the fatalities have occurred in Vietnam, where tests are currently being conducted for at least one possible additional human infection. China has not reported any human infections of the avian flu.

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