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Afghanistan Reports Fresh Bird Flu Cases

Afghanistan has reported thirteen fresh cases of bird flu, taking the total toll to 17, health officials// confirmed.

According to Assadullah Azhari, a spokesman for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Kabul, nearly nine birds were found to suffer the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu.

To contain the disease, the Afghan government has forbidden the import of poultry products from Pakistan and other countries which have reported the presence of avian influenza. Additionally, an extensive poultry immunization programme has been launched in Kabul and in the two provinces which reported bird flu.

"We have completed vaccination and culling in many poultry farms and have now started a similar process in households [backyard poultry]," Dr Azizullah Usmani, director of Afghanistan's Department of Animal Health and Production, said.

Afghanistan is also facing a cash crunch which has affected the nation’s efforts to curb the deadly virus. The government has sought the assistance of the World Bank to tide over the crisis.

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