Laboratory in Thailand confirms Myanmar bird flu is H5N1 type

A Thai government laboratory has confirmed that more than 100 chickens found dead in central Myanmar had the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu, veterinary officials said Thursday.

Preliminary tests conducted by Myanmar health officials indicated the deaths last week of 112 birds at a farm just outside Mandalay, 720 kilometers (450 miles) north of Yangon, had been caused by H5N1, but samples were also sent to more experienced laboratories in Thailand and Australia.

Thailand's National Animal Health Laboratory confirmed that the samples tested positive for H5N1, Dr. Than Daing, deputy director general of Myanmar's Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, said Thursday.

"The lab has confirmed that it was the H5N1 virus and we will continue to take control measures as required," he said.

The finding by the Thai laboratory "adds an extra level of certainty to the lab situation," said Laurence Gleeson, regional manager of the Emergency Center for Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases at the regional office of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Bangkok, Thailand.

He said that a technical expert from the Bangkok FAO office had been sent to join Dr. Tang Zhengping, resident representative of the FAO in Myanmar, to travel to the affected area to "provide more insight into what is happening on the ground."

Officials have already culled 5,000 chickens and banned the sale of chicken and eggs near the farm near Mandalay where the outbreak occurred, state-controlled press reported Thursday.

Repeating an announcement made Wednesday night on state radio and television, the reports said arrangements would be made to rehabilitate the affected farm, and also published instructions for the prevention and control of bird flu, reports the AP.

I.L.

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