China confirms new outbreak of bird flu in poultry

BEIJING - China has confirmed a fresh outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus among poultry in the western region of Xinjiang, the official Xinhua News agency reported on Thursday.

It said that the Ministry of Agriculture had confirmed on Wednesday that poultry on a farm in Hetian country had died from the bird flu virus.

The report did not specify how many many birds were infected.

The Agriculture Ministry has sent experts to Hetian to control the outbreak, and officials were inspecting and disinfecting people and vehicles passing in and out of the effected area, Xinhua said.

China has reported about 40 outbreaks of bird flu in birds across a dozen provinces over the past year, and 12 people are known to have died from the virus and six have survived.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu can strike down domestic and wild birds, and also infect humans who have close contact with them. Scientists fear it could mutate into a strain that can pass from human to human, potentially triggering a deadly outbreak over a wide area.

In late May, China said that bird flu killed about 400 wild birds in the remote western Qinghai province and in Tibet.

On Monday, a leading Chinese bird flu specialist said the government should review the effectiveness of measures to control bird flu and intensify efforts to wipe out the disease among birds.

- REUTERS

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