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"The first case of bird flu has been detected in the Far North province," Cameroon’s government said in a statement after the virus was found on a duck farm.
Nigeria, Egypt and Niger have already reported cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain in poultry flocks. Cameroon’s Far North province borders Nigeria, where Africa’s first H5N1 bird flu outbreak was confirmed on Feb. 8.
So far there has been no human bird flu case in Africa, but health officials are concerned that its spread in birds across the continent, where millions live in close contact with poultry, will increase the possibility the virus will mutate to become transmissible between humans.
In Myanmar, which borders China, Thailand and Laos, where outbreaks have already occurred, industry and government officials said authorities were testing scores of dead chickens and quail in the central Mandalay region.
If confirmed, they would be the first cases of avian influenza in the secretive military-ruled country, seen by some experts as a black hole in the fight against the disease.
"Over a week ago, a large number of chickens on some farms in Mandalay Division died of a disease very similar to bird flu," a poultry industry official in Mandalay told Reuters.
Myanmar’s junta promised in December to let the world know if bird flu spread to the Asian nation.
The World Health Organization has confirmed 176 people infected with bird flu around the world, of whom 97 have died. This does not include a possible cluster of 10 cases in Azerbaijan that were still being investigated.
’ALL NECESSARY MEASURES’
"We are taking all necessary measures to control the situation and to find out more accurate information about the disease," said a senior official at the Myanmar Ministry of Livestock Breeding and Fisheries, requesting anonymity.
Cameroon Livestock Minister Sarki Aboubakary told Reuters the Pasteur Institute in Paris had identified H5N1 in samples from ducks that died on a farm in the northern town of Maroua.
"Yesterday, we received confirmation from Paris that one of the samples was positive, that a case of H5N1 was effectively detected in one of the ducks," he said.
Aboubakary said Cameroon health authorities had slaughtered all the remaining ducks on that farm, closed all area poultry markets and put veterinary services on alert.
Birds were being tested on other farms in Far North province, and the government was preparing to vaccinate poultry if necessary, he added.
As bird flu spreads in Africa, experts are concerned that the world’s poorest continent, already battling HIV/AIDS and malaria, is ill-equipped to combat a new health threat.
Suspected poultry outbreaks in Gabon — which borders Cameroon to the north — Ethiopia, Gambia and Sierra Leone are also under investigation.
Wealthy nations pledged almost $2 billion to tackle bird flu at a donor meeting in Beijing in January and World Health Organization officials say Africa will receive a sizable portion of this to strengthen surveillance and other measures.
In most of Africa, the inability to detect avian flu quickly in animals or humans is delaying control measures.
Greece confirmed on Sunday that two more samples from dead swans, both found in the northern part of the country, tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, bringing the number of infected wild fowl to 32. So far, no cases have occurred in Greek farm poultry.
Poland had said on Saturday it had discovered several new centers for bird flu, and emergency measures were in effect.
(Additional reporting by Antoine Lawson in Libreville, Aung Hla Tun in Yangon, Myanmar, and Dina Kyriakidou in Athens) http://asia.news.yahoo.com/060312/3/2h87s.html
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