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China reported bird flu cases in Tibet - OIE

by 5m Editor
11 August 2005, at 12:00am

TIBET - China has discovered a strain of bird flu, likely the one deadly to humans, at a farm in Tibet, making the western region the third to be hit in the country, the world animal health body OIE said on Wednesday.

China reported bird flu cases in Tibet - OIE - TIBET - China has discovered a strain of bird flu, likely the one deadly to humans, at a farm in Tibet, making the western region the third to be hit in the country, the world animal health body OIE said on Wednesday.

"We just received the information that bird flu has been detected in Tibet," OIE director-general Bernard Vallat told Reuters.

He said the virus found was likely to be the H5N1 strain that has swept large parts of Asia, killing more than 50 people in the region. The disease also led to the death of 140 million birds in Asia at a cost running to billions of dollars.

"It's highly pathogenic so it will likely have the same aggressiveness as in the rest of Asia," Vallat said.

The Chinese authorities informed the Paris-based OIE that 133 infected birds had died in a farm close to the capital Lhasa, which had prompted them to cull an additional 2,600 birds in the surrounding area.

China did not say what type of bird had been infected but Vallat said it was likely to be chicken.

The news comes on the same day as confirmation that a bird flu outbreak in Kazakhstan was the deadly H5N1 strain and news that the disease had extended its reach in Russian Siberia and spread to Mongolia.

But Vallat said the Tibet outbreak probably came from another part of China. The Asian country already reported bird flu outbreaks in its western provinces of Xinjiang and Qinghai, which are adjacent to Tibet.

Some scientists have warned that avian flu, infectious in birds, does not spread easily among humans but it could mutate into a form better able to pass from animals to people, possibly triggering a global pandemic.

They say such a pandemic would likely start in Asia and could kill millions and result in devastating economic losses.

Vallat said the fact that bird flu had spread to Tibet was maybe because China had not applied bird vaccination in the entire country.

"So we can hope that now they will extend vaccination and that the virus will be quickly contained," he said.

Source: Reuters - 11th August 2005

5m Editor