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Bird flu detected in Nepal

NEPAL'S government has detected bird flu in chickens near its border with India and ordered thousands of poultry slaughtered, an official said yesterday, marking the first known instance of the virus in the Himalayan nation.

Authorities will slaughter all poultry within a 3 kilometer radius of Kakarvitta, where chickens tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, said Health Minister Girirajmani Pokharel. The border town is about 480 kilometers east of the capital, Katmandu.

There have been no reports of humans affected, Pokharel said.

Nepal imposed a ban on poultry imports from India last year after authorities there reported several outbreaks, but chickens are routinely smuggled over the border.

This is the first time health officials in Nepal have confirmed H5N1 in the country.

The latest WHO figures say bird flu has killed 248 people worldwide since 2003. The H5N1 bird flu virus continues to devastate poultry stocks around the world.

Bird flu remains difficult for humans to catch, but experts fear the virus might mutate into a new form that spreads easily among people.


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