03/14/2006, 00.00
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List of countries affected by bird flu gets longer

As a new migratory season begins, concern grows. Three people die in Azerbaijan. First cases are detected amongst birds in Afghanistan.

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported so far 180 human bird flu cases causing 101 deaths. The virus is spreading to more and countries, but the actual number of cases remains underestimated because the WHO only reports cases confirmed by its accredited laboratories. Many countries lack however adequate health and testing facilities. With a new migratory season upon us the virus is also migrating to new places.

Azerbaijan. Eleven bird flu cases, three with fatal consequences, were detected in Azerbaijan using WHO tests. The three victims were all residents of the Salyan region in southern Azerbaijan. Since early this month, the H5N1 virus has affected the Gilyazi region, near the Caspian Sea, where half a million birds have since been destroyed to stop the outbreak.

Afghanistan. The first known bird flu cases in Afghanistan surfaced in backyard poultry farms in the capital Kabul, in Jalalabad and in the eastern province of Nangarhar. Test results are still pending. Afghanistan lies at a crossroads for migratory birds, and the virus has already been detected in countries in the region such as Iran and India.

China. Health inspectors will go to Guangdong to ensure the area is free from bird flu before Hong Kong lifts the ban on poultry it imposed on the province March 2 following the death of a woman. (PB)

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