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24 May 06
China reports two new avian flu outbreaks among migratory birds
BEIJING : China has reported two new outbreaks of avian flu among migratory birds, bringing to four the number of such cases recorded in the northwest over the past month.
A total of 399 bar-headed geese and ruddy shelducks had died from the virus in outbreaks in Tibet's Naqu district and the Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in neighbouring Qinghai province, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.
The ministry reported on its website that the outbreaks, which it said had happened "recently," were confirmed as the deadly H5N1 virus earlier on Wednesday.
Although the two outbreaks had occurred in separate locations, they were linked by the same migratory route. The route also linked the outbreaks to two other recent incidents in the area, the ministry said.
According to earlier reports, 123 birds had died in the previous outbreaks. The ministry said the area was thinly populated and had no farms where poultry was being raised, suggesting the risk to domesticated birds was small.
Qinghai is along one of Asia's main bird migratory routes and a series of avian flu outbreaks were recorded there in May last year.
China has reported 18 human cases of bird flu, 12 of which were fatal. More than 120 people worldwide have died from bird flu since it re-emerged as a threat in 2003 -- with most of the victims in Asia. Scientists fear a global pandemic if the virus mutates and becomes easily transmissible between humans. - AFP /ct
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