03/21/2006, 00.00
ASIA

Bird flu reaches Pakistan

There are new outbreaks of infection in Malaysia and a third suspected case of human infection in Egypt.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The H5N1 virus has arrived in Pakistan too. In Egypt, there is a third suspected case of human infection within a week, and there are fears that Myanmar will not be able to stem the infection before it reaches neighbouring states.

Pakistan. The virus was found in two farms near the cities of Charsadda, near Peshawar, and Abbottabad, both near the north west border. They were discovered at the end of February, but official confirmation was issued only today. Since then, said Muhammad Afzal, a spokesman for the ministry of agriculture, all chickens in the farms have been slaughtered and there are no other cases. The country never had avian flu before, however in 2003, around three or four million birds died in an epidemic of a less dangerous virus, H7N3. The disease struck neighbouring Afghanistan  and India weeks ago.

India. Optimism reigns here, after testing revealed that all the people under observation were free of disease.

Malaysia. Tests confirmed other infectious outbreaks among bred poultry in the central state of Perak, in Cangkat Legon and Titi Gantung districts.

Myanmar. UN sources today said this state needs international help to fight the infection before it spreads to neighbouring states. Despite the culling of thousands of birds and the creation of a control zone to stop duck flights, the infection is moving towards the border with Thailand; although hit by the virus in past years, this country has not reported new infections for some time.

Egypt. The new case also lived in Qaloubiyah region around 40km north of Cairo. The woman, according to Hatem el-Gabali, Health Minister, touched and slaughtered infected poultry she was breeding, despite a ban since February on keeping poultry at home.

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