China, Pakistan, and Vietnam report fresh H5N1 outbreaks

Feb 25, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Agriculture officials in China announced today that the H5N1 avian influenza virus has struck poultry in the southwestern part of the country, a day after new outbreaks were reported in Pakistan, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

The outbreak in China, which occurred in the mountainous Guizhou province, was confirmed Feb 17 by the country's National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. The agriculture ministry said the outbreak killed 3,993 birds and that 238,364 were culled to control the spread of the virus.

The outbreak is China's fourth since the first of the year, according to the Xinhua report. Two others occurred in Tibet, in the southwestern part of the country. An outbreak also hit birds in Xinjiang province in northwestern China.

In other developments, a health official in Pakistan yesterday reported a new outbreak at a farm near Karachi in southern Pakistan, Deutsche Presse-Argentur (DPA) reported today.

"It's a small outbreak in an isolated area," Maqbool Jan Abbasi, an official from Pakistan's health ministry, told DPA. He said local authorities were slow to identify the outbreak.

The outbreak is the third to strike the Karachi area in February, according to the DPA report. Pakistan has also reported recent outbreaks in North-West Frontier province, the region where outbreaks in December contributed to suspected human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus.

Elsewhere, animal health officials in Vietnam said yesterday that the virus infected poultry in Ninh Binh province in the northern part of the country, according to a report today in Thanh Nien News, a Vietnamese media outlet.

The outbreak began on Feb 18 and struck 330 backyard poultry, Thanh Nien reported. Ninh Binh is the seventh Vietnamese province to report H5N1 outbreaks this year, the report said.

In other avian flu news, veterinary officials in Bangladesh conducted a new round of culling in seven districts, as the number of districts experiencing H5N1 outbreaks grew to 45 of 64, Xinhua reported yesterday. The culling operations push the number of birds slaughtered to control the spread of the disease to 968,731, the report said.

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