The first case of bird flu confirmed in Taiwan

Taiwanese authorities on Thursday confirmed the island's first case of bird flu, the Agricultural Commission said. Birds taken from a Panama-registered freighter that was stopped by the Taiwanese coast guard on Oct. 14 tested positive for the H5N1 virus, the commission said.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed 60 people in Asia. While most human cases have been traced to direct contact with infected birds, scientists fear the virus will mutate into a virulent form that can spread easily from person to person, possibly killing millions worldwide.

Asia is considered at greatest risk, but the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization recently expressed fear that Africa was poorly prepared to respond to a bird flu outbreak because of weak veterinary services and the absence of resources to vaccinate or slaughter animals.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to surface in Asia. On Thursday, the World Health Organization said China had destroyed 91,100 birds around a farm in the country's north to stop a bird flu outbreak. The birds were culled after 2,600 chickens and ducks died of the H5N1 virus in a breeding facility in a village in the Inner Mongolia region. I.L.

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