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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Fresh bird flu outbreak in China
A health worker vaccinates a chicken at a chicken farm May 23, 2005 in Xining, Qinghai Province, China.
China has taken considerable precautions since its first outbreak
China has announced a fresh outbreak of bird flu, saying 2,600 birds have died from the disease in Inner Mongolia.

The deaths, at a farm near the region's capital of Hohhot, were due to the H5N1 strain, which is potentially lethal to humans, the Xinhua news agency said.

China has previously suffered outbreaks of bird flu in Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Tibet, all this year. Thousands of affected fowl have been slaughtered.

Bird flu has killed at least 60 people in Asia since December 2003.

Xinhua said the latest outbreak, in Tengjiaying village near Hohhot, was now under control, though it did not say when it had taken place.

Principally an avian disease, first seen in humans in Hong Kong, 1997
Almost all human cases thought to be contracted from birds
Isolated cases of human-to-human transmission in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but none confirmed

China's national bird flu laboratory confirmed it was the H5N1 strain, Xinhua said.

No human victims were mentioned in the report - China's bird flu outbreaks have so far only affected its fowl.

Its most recent previous confirmed case was near the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in August, in which 133 birds died and another 2,475 were slaughtered.

A local official told the AFP news agency that the latest outbreak had been detected at a small farm with fewer than 10,000 birds, mainly chickens, geese and peacocks.

News of the outbreak comes as European officials deal with outbreaks in Romania and Turkey.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Agency has also warned of a risk the disease will now reach the Middle East and Africa as a result of the European outbreaks.

Scientists fear the H5N1 strain could combine with human flu or mutate into a form that it easily transmissible between humans, triggering a flu pandemic.

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