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Saudi Arabia, Tibet report H5N1 outbreaks

February 1, 2008

CIDRAP - Minneapolis, MN, USA

Jan 30, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Agriculture officials in Saudi Arabia and
Tibet reported new H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks yesterday, as India
struggled to keep the virus out of Calcutta and Bangladesh officials
said outbreaks have spread to yet another district.

Saudi Arabia's agriculture ministry said yesterday the H5N1 virus struck
a farm in Kharaj province, south of Riyadh, the capital, according to an
Associated Press (AP) report today. The ministry said it culled 158,000
chickens to control the outbreak.

A statement from the ministry said about 475 workers were tested for the
H5N1 virus, but no infections were found, the AP reported.

Saudi Arabia's last H5N1 outbreaks, reported in November, also occurred
near Riyadh, including in Kharaj, according to a report from the World
Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Elsewhere, China's agriculture ministry yesterday reported a poultry
outbreak in southwestern Tibet that killed 1,000 birds, according to a
report yesterday from the OIE. The outbreak was detected in Gongga,
where 13,080 birds, consisting mainly of broiler hens along with 400
ducks, were culled, the report said.

Tibet's last outbreak was reported in March 2007, according to an OIE
report. China recently lifted a quarantine in the Xinjiang, which
neighbors Tibet, according to an AP report. The Xinjiang outbreak, which
began in late December, also struck a broiler chicken operation,
according to the OIE.

Elsewhere, workers in India sprayed roads and markets and culled birds
to prevent H5N1 outbreaks in in Calcutta, the densely populated capital
of West Bengal, where the number of districts reporting outbreaks
remains at 13, according to a Reuters report today.

Anisur Rahaman, West Bengal's animal resources minister, told Reuters
that authorities were culling chickens on a farm about an hour from
Calcutta. "We are not taking chances, as the farm reported bird deaths
and preliminary tests suggested bird flu," he said.

Meanwhile, Rahaman said he has asked India's central government to allow
West Bengal to seek international help in its battle to contain H5N1
outbreaks, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.

"We need foreign help to stem the deadly virus, which is spreading at an
alarming rate," he told AFP. "I have urged the chief minister to have
talks with the federal government so that we can approach the United
States and China for help."

Elsewhere, livestock officials in Bangladesh today reported an H5N1
outbreak in Khulna, about 87 miles southwest of Dhaka, the capital, the
private news agency UNB reported, according to Xinhua, China's state
news service. Officials collected samples from sick and dead birds after
14 chickens died at a home in the city last week, Xinhua reported.

With the new outbreak, 30 of 64 Bangladeshi districts have reported
recent H5N1 outbreaks, according to Xinhua.

In other developments, animal health officials in the United Kingdom
today released a final epidemiologic report on the H5N1 outbreak in mute
swans at a swan sanctuary in Dorset County. The 21-page report from the
UK Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said a
genetic analysis showed that the H5N1 subtype that infected six swans
closely resembled isolates found in mid to late 2007 in other European
outbreaks, including the Czech Republic, Romania, and Poland.

Surveillance that followed the outbreak in swans found no evidence of
infection in domestic birds, the DEFRA report said. Though the source of
the swan infections has not been determined, the agency said the virus
was probably spread by migratory birds that also inhabit the swan
sanctuary and other nearby wetlands.

Soon after releasing the report, DEFRA announced that a seventh swan at
the sanctuary had tested positive for the H5N1 virus. The swan was
collected on Jan 24 during routine surveillance, and the identification
of other infected birds is not unexpected, DEFRA said in a press
release. Enhanced surveillance in the area is continuing, it said.
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