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China reports bird flu outbreak in poultry in Tibet

January 30, 2008

BEIJING, Jan 29, 2008 (Reuters) - 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 Jan. 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
Dec. 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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