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Bird flu in Gaza Strip

Written by: Staff

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Mar 22: The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu which struck Israel last week has spread to the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian agriculture official today said.

The official offered few other details about the outbreak except that the virus was detected in areas close to the Israeli border. The H5N1 virus has also been detected in neighbouring Egypt.

Israel has been culling hundreds of thousands of turkeys and chickens after an outbreak of the deadly avian virus at several farms near the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority yesterday declared a state of emergency in hope of preventing the spread of the virus.

The virus has rippled out from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa in recent months, with migratory birds seen as the main culprits in spreading bird flu.

Experts fear the virus will mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person, sparking a pandemic in which millions could die and which could cripple the global economy.

Bird flu can infect people who come into close contact with infected poultry and has killed nearly 100 people since late 2003.

Egypt reported a fourth suspected case of bird flu in humans yesterday.

Israeli officials have said there have been no cases of humans contracting the virus in Israel.


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