News and Views on Tibet

Tibet reports bird flu outbreak

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DHARAMSHALA, May 15: An outbreak of the highly contagious H5N1 bird flu virus among chickens has been reported from the Nyingtri region of central Tibet.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture on Monday said 35 chickens at a farm in a village in Nyingtri “showed symptoms of the suspected avian flu and died last Tuesday.”

According to China’s state news agency, Xinhua, the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed that the virus was H5N1, after testing samples collected at the farm.

“Local authorities have sealed off and sterilised the infected area, where a total of 372 chickens have been culled and safely disposed of in order to prevent the disease from spreading,” the report cited MOA as saying.

The spread of the newly detected H7N9 virus in China has claimed 35 lives so far, while 57 infected patients have recovered according to China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Since the first H7N9 infections was reported in late March, China has confirmed a total of 130 cases.

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or “bird flu”). Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person. According to the World Health Organisation, when people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60%.

Last month, over 500 cattle heads were culled in the Tibetan capital region of Lhasa and another 156 cattle heads were culled in the Shigatse region after reported outbreaks of the foot-and-mouth disease.

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