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China reports bird flu outbreak in poultry in Tibet
Reuters[Tuesday, January 29, 2008 17:59]

BEIJING, January 29: China has detected an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu in poultry in Tibet, a government Web site said on Tuesday.

A total of 1,000 poultry have died of the disease in Gonggan county since January 25, while another 13,080 have been culled, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its Web site (www.agri.gov.cn).

"The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed the virus as a subtype of the H5N1 strain," it said.

With the world's biggest poultry population and hundreds of millions of farmers raising birds in their backyards, China is seen as crucial in the global fight against bird flu.

Epidemiologists fear the H5N1 strain, which remains mainly an animal disease but has infected humans, could mutate to a form that it spreads easily among people.

State media reported earlier this month that a total of 4,850 poultry had died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Turpan, in Xinjiang, since December 29, prompting authorities there to cull another 29,383 birds.

Bird flu spreads fastest in chilly weather.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Lucy Hornby and Alex Richardson)
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