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Burma culls poultry hit by bird flu

5th March 2007

Burma's military government has ordered the slaughter of 1,500 chickens after 68 birds died from avian flu in the former capital Rangoon, although Burmese officials cite no evidence of human infections.

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"For the time being, we have no human cases," Kanokporn Coninx, avian influenza coordinator at the World Health Organization (WHO), told RFA's Burmese service.

"It happened on one farm. We are monitoring all members of the family. There are 12 of them. We have been closely monitoring them and their neighborhood. They haven't shown any signs of infection," she said.

Other United Nations officials were still waiting to gain access to the area where the outbreak occurred.

No help requested

"The Burmese government hasn't asked for any special assistance from us after this new outbreak," said Tang Zhenping, who represents the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Burma.

"The FAO is providing assistance with three projects. They are now continuing," he added.

Tang said he hoped a regional expert from the FAO who was currently in the country would be allowed to visit the affected area soon.

He said he had been informed that four poultry markets close to the affected area had been closed, although sources in the area told RFA that chickens were still being sold.

A government official from the Ministry of Livestock Breeding and Fisheries has said the infection probably came from migrating birds.

But Tang said it would be premature to make statements about the infection route ahead of further investigations.

Information promised soon

David Nabarro, U.N. coordinator for avian and human flu, has recently said he believes the current spread of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza has more to do with the poultry trade than with migrating wild birds.

International groups say state-run media are slow to respond to bird flu outbreaks. Since the outbreak started last Monday, the authorities have made no public announcements in the media.

Maung Maung Nyunt, director general of the Ministry of Livestock Breeding and Fisheries, told RFA that more information would be released to the media soon.

Burma suffered its first bird flu outbreak in March 2006. The government announced that Burma was clear of bird flu in September 2006.

Original reporting and translation by Min Zin for RFA's Burmese service. Burmese service acting director: Nancy Shwe. Written and produced for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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