- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

KUWAIT CITY (Agence France-Presse)

Bird flu has hit a new commercial poultry farm in the Persian Gulf state of Kuwait, leading to the killing of at least 200,000 more layer chickens, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

Authorities in the oil-rich emirate said on Saturday that they had killed 1.5 million fowls, including 1.1 million layer chickens in three commercial poultry farms at Wafra, south of Kuwait City on the Saudi border.

Ministry spokesman Ahmad al-Shatti said the number of confirmed H5N1 virus cases in fowls had risen to 106, but no human cases had been detected.

The new culling raised the number of layer chickens killed to 1.3 million, which represents about 75 percent of the emirate’s total. Kuwait also has 32 million broiler chickens, for eating, but no bird flu case has been found among them.

Since the outbreak was first reported Feb. 25, Kuwait has imposed a total ban on the import and export of birds and closed down bird markets, as well as hundreds of shops that sell live chickens, and the emirate’s only zoo.

In November 2005, Kuwait announced the first case of a bird infected with the deadly H5N1 strain — a flamingo at a seaside villa. The H5N1 strain, the most aggressive form, has killed more than 170 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and led to the destruction of millions of birds.

H5N1 is an avian influenza subtype with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans.

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