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. Bird flu hits southern China: state press

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 17, 2008
Authorities in southern China have begun destroying poultry after bird flu was detected to stop the disease spreading, state press said Tuesday.

The outbreak was confirmed as the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus by the agriculture ministry on Tuesday after poultry began dying in Jiangmen city, Guangdong province, last week, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nearly 3,900 ducks have died, while another 17,000 fowls were culled due to fears that they could be carrying the virus, the report said.

The government has ordered measures to contain the outbreak and to disinfect the area, the report added. Preliminary efforts show that the "epidemic has been effectively contained," it said.

The outbreak in Guangdong comes after the H5N1 virus was found in a market in neighbouring Hong Kong, prompting the city to ban all live poultry imports from China on Saturday, June 7.

Live poultry imports from mainland China would be suspended for 21 days while an investigation was carried out, officials in Hong Kong said.

Hong Kong was the scene of the world's first reported major bird flu outbreak among humans in 1997, when six people died.

H5N1 has killed more than 200 people and ravaged poultry flocks worldwide since 2003, according to the World Health Organisation.

Scientists fear the virus will eventually mutate into a form that is much more easily transmissible between humans, triggering a global pandemic.

China has had several bird flu outbreaks this year, and three Chinese have died from the virus so far in 2008, according to earlier reports.

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Hong Kong traders may have ignored bird flu warning signs: govt
Hong Kong (AFP) June 12, 2008
Poultry traders in Hong Kong may have failed to promptly alert the authorities to a possible bird flu outbreak, the city's health secretary said on Thursday, following a mass cull of chickens.

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