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Deadly bird flu spreads to Jordan, no human cases

By Staff
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AMMAN, Mar 24 (Reuters) The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has spread to Jordan but there are no human cases, Jordan's Health Minister Said Darwazeh said today.

He said at least three dead turkeys at a domestic farm in Ajloun had tested positive for the disease but none of the humans tested in the area was infected.

Twenty people were given the Tamiflu vaccine and the area has been cordoned off to prevent the disease from spreading further.

The virus had already been detected in some of Jordan's neighbours and other countries in the region. Iraq, Turkey and Egypt have suffered human cases and infected poultry was found in southern Israel and spread to the densely populated Palestinian Gaza Strip this week.

Darwazeh told a news conference Jordan had been on high alert since bird flu was detected in Israel and that its own outbreak had been contained.

''The disease in its current form is more of an economic disease that affects poultry. It has had a very limited effect on human health,'' he said.

The H5N1 bird flu virus reached Jordan after rippling out from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It can infect people who come into close contact with infected poultry and has killed about 100 people since 2003.

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 world economy.

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