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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 05:41 GMT
Burma reports first bird flu case
Chicken farm near Jakarta, Jan 2006
Indonesia and Vietnam been the worst affected countries
Burma has reported what is believed to be its first case of H5N1 bird flu.

The virus was detected after more than 100 chickens died near Mandalay earlier this month, according to Than Tun, director of animal health.

But there is no evidence of human infection, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

At least 97 people have died from bird flu since the disease's resurgence in 2003, two-thirds of them in Indonesia and Vietnam.

The disease has killed or forced the slaughter of more than 140 million chickens and ducks across Asia since 2003, and has recently spread to Europe and Africa.

Burma's first case reportedly emerged on 8 March, when large numbers of chickens began dying in Mandalay's Aung Myae Thar Zan township.

Officials destroyed the flock of birds, and sent samples to a central laboratory in Rangoon, and then to a laboratory in Australia for confirmation, Than Tun told reporters.

"They have carried out some tests and they believe that they have identified H5N1," said Laurence Gleeson, a senior FAO official in Bangkok, citing a report by the Rangoon government.

"We will be encouraging them to submit samples to a reference lab to confirm the findings and genetic makeup," he added.

There had been fears that Burma's notoriously secretive government would not openly admit to cases of bird flu.

While neighbouring China and Thailand have been fighting the disease since its resurgence in late 2003, Burma's ruling junta insisted the country was bird flu-free.

But officials in Rangoon had repeatedly said they would openly report any bird flu cases.

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