Thursday, January 31, 2008

India, Tibet, Indonesia Hit By Bird Flu Deaths, Virus Spread

Three people have died from the H5N1 virus in Indonesia in the past four days. In India, at least three districts are now be infected by the virus, but some experts estimate the virus may be in many more districts and already have reached Calcutta. Birds are dying in greater and greater numbers in Tibet, from the virus and from culling.

The spread of bird flu picks up speed across Asia :

The death of the 32-year-old man raised Indonesia's human toll to 101 — accounting for nearly half the worldwide total. The man died in the capital Tuesday, three days after being hospitalized.

In southwestern Tibet, a poultry farm was quarantined after an outbreak of the disease killed 1,000 birds, agriculture officials reported Wednesday. More than 13,000 other poultry were killed to prevent its spread.

In India, the virus spread in three districts of West Bengal state, where culling was under way and more than 129,000 poultry birds have died, said Animal Resource Development Minister Anisur Rahaman.

Health workers have killed nearly 2.5 million at-risk birds and were clearing areas within 3 miles of infection sites, said Rahaman. No human infections have been recorded.

Skittish officials in neighboring Bangladesh ordered the halt of all egg and poultry imports from India.

Bird flu typically flares during the winter months, and a number of Asian nations have recently reported fresh outbreaks in poultry, from India to China to Thailand. Health officials said it was essential that governments step up surveillance to prevent its spread, especially ahead of next week's Lunar New Year, when massive numbers of people and poultry will be on the move.

"The more you see it in poultry, the more chance there is that we will see human cases," said Gregory Hartl, World Health Organization spokesman in Geneva.

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