Kuwait reports H5N1 outbreaks in birds

Feb 26, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Health officials in Kuwait have reported finding H5N1 avian influenza in backyard and captive birds at several locations in the past two days, according to news services.

Yesterday health ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Shatti announced that 20 falcons, chickens, and turkeys at the Kuwait Zoo, on farms, and at a clinic for falcons were infected, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Today al-Shatti said the disease was found in three turkeys and nine chickens in home pens in Wafra, which is south of Kuwait City, and in the northern district of Doha.

The H5N1 outbreaks are the first reported in Kuwait since November 2005, when news services said the disease was found in a flamingo and a falcon. However, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) databases do not document any H5N1 cases in birds in Kuwait. The country has reported no human H5N1 cases.

The health ministry closed the Kuwait Zoo and bird markets yesterday and banned all bird imports and exports, the AP reported. Officials culled poultry on the involved farms and gave antiviral medication to people who had been in contact with infected birds, al-Shatti told the AP.

Meanwhile, state-run television in Vietnam announced today a new H5N1 outbreak, according to Agence France-Presse. Bird deaths occurred in Hai Duong province, about 30 miles east of Hanoi. No other details were available.

In December and January, avian influenza returned to seven southern Mekong Delta provinces after about a year with no major outbreaks. The new report is the first in about a month.

In Russia, the H5N1 virus has spread to another province, Kaluzhskaya, about 50 miles southwest of Moscow, according to a report submitted today to the OIE. The province is the third affected this year. The outbreak, which began Feb 5, killed a flock of 17 backyard poultry.

Several poultry outbreaks were recently reported around the Moscow region, and in late January the virus was detected in poultry in the Krasnodar region in southwestern Russia.

In other developments, Reuters reported late this afternoon that an Egyptian woman from the Nile Delta town of Beheira tested positive for the H5n1 flu virus. The news was attributed to Egypt's state news agency MENA. The woman was described as a housewife who raised chickens.

In addition, a 15-year-old girl from Laos has been hospitalized with suspected H5N1 avian flu, the Chinese news service Xinhua reported today. The patient, from the capital city of Vientiane, is undergoing testing and treatment in Thailand. Her family said she had had no contact with dead poultry before she got sick, Xinhua reported.

See also:

OIE reports on Russian outbreak
http://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2007_AI.php

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