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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 13:22 GMT
Pakistan detects 'mild' bird flu
A chicken vendor in a market in Pakistan's Quetta city
Pakistan has banned poultry imports from India
Pakistani authorities have quarantined two poultry farms in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) after a mild strain of bird flu was detected there.

Samples from the farms have been sent to England for further tests to rule out the deadly H5N1 strain, Dr Mohamad Afzal from the food ministry said.

Nearly 25,000 birds in the farms are being slaughtered as a precaution, Dr Afzal said.

The H5N1 strain was detected in neighbouring India nine days ago.


Tens of thousands of birds have been slaughtered in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Further tests

The mild H5 strain of avian influenza was found at poultry farms in Abbotabad and Charsadda districts of NWFP.

Workers at Gul Poultry Farm in Charsadda town, nearly 60km (37miles) from the provincial capital, Peshawar, have also been asked to leave the premises and health officials have been asked to conduct tests on the workers.

Dr Afzal said "we have not ruled out that it is H5N1 but it appears to be a low pathogenic strain."

The results of the samples sent to England are expected "within a week or so", he added.

Last week Pakistan banned imports of poultry and related products from India, France and Iran.

The H5N1 virus does not at present pose a large-scale threat to humans, as it cannot pass easily from one person to another.

However, experts fear the virus could mutate to gain this ability, and in its new form trigger a flu pandemic, potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.


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