China Hit by Bird Flu, 18,000 Chickens Die

The dreaded bird flu returned to haunt China after 18,000 chickens, which showed symptoms of avian flu, died at a farm in northeastern part of the country.

The province has reported an outbreak of the H5N6 bird flu virus in poultry in Heilongjiang Province, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced yesterday.

Over 20,000 geese at a farm in Harbin, the provincial capital, showed symptoms of avian flu and almost 18,000 died last month, it said.

The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory yesterday confirmed the epidemic was H5N6, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.

The infected area has been sealed off and sterilised with almost 69,000 poultry culled and safely disposed, the ministry said.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a contagious disease of animal origin caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and less commonly, pigs.

It can be fatal to humans.

A Chinese man hailing from Nanbu county in Sichuan province died in May, becoming the first human to have been affected by the new virus called H5N6.

He died while receiving the treatment at a hospital, the Sichuan Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission said.

Twenty seven people died early this year after China was struck by H7N9 virus which badly affected the poultry industry.

H7N9 was first reported in China in March 2013.

The virus causes severe disease in humans, including acute and often lethal respiratory failure.

China has reported more than 200 human H7N9 cases.

The disease was controlled after Chinese medical specialists found a line of treatment.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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