China confirms new outbreak of bird flu in birds in the north of the country

Some 15,000 chickens in northern China have died of bird flu, the government said Wednesday, the first report of the disease on the mainland in more than a month. The chickens were found dead on Feb. 2-3 at a breeding farm in Yijing, a town in Shanxi province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. They tested positive for the virulent H5N1 strain of the disease, it said. So far, more than 187,000 birds have been culled within a three-kilometer (two-mile) radius, it said.

It is China 's 29th reported outbreak of the disease in birds since Oct. 19. There have been 10 reported human cases of bird flu on the mainland and only three survived.

Officials have been trying to prevent epidemics in birds because it increases the chances of the disease being passed to humans.

While most of the human infections have been linked to direct contact with sick poultry, experts have warned that the virus could mutate into a form that could be easily transmitted between people, possibly sparking a global flu pandemic that could kill millions.

Since 2003, bird flu has killed 88 people mostly in Asia and decimated poultry populations, reports the AP.


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