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Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, 16:14 GMT
Lethal bird flu found in Kuwait
Kuwait bird market
Kuwait has taken precautions at its main bird market
One of the two cases of bird flu recently detected in Kuwait was caused by the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, a Kuwaiti official has said.

It is the first confirmed case in the Gulf of the virus that has devastated poultry stocks and killed more than 62 people in Asia.

Tests on a migratory wild flamingo found last week on a southern Kuwaiti beach showed it had the H5N1 strain.

A falcon found in a shipment at Kuwait Airport had the milder H5N2 strain.

Mohammed al-Mihana, the deputy director general of the Public Authority for Agriculture and Fish Resources (PAAFR),said the flamingo was destroyed by the authorities and did not die of the virus.

Although Mr Mihana insisted the virus had not been allowed to spread, Kuwait has allocated $5.4m to purchase anti-viral drugs for its residents.

Officials in the Gulf state say they will continue to monitor farms, bird markets, and locations where birds stop when migrating from Asia to Africa.

Last month, Kuwait banned wild bird imports and all poultry from Asian states.

The World Health Organisation said that it had expected the virus to reach the region sooner rather than later.

"The Middle East and Africa are on the flyways [of migratory birds], and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has said that they expected to see H5N1 in those areas," WHO spokesman Dick Thompson told Reuters.

The H5N1 strain remained largely in South-East Asia until this summer, when Russia and Kazakhstan both reported outbreaks
Scientists fear it may be carried by migrating birds to Europe and Africa but say it is hard to prove a direct link with bird migration
UK case discovered in quarantine, so disease-free status unaffected

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