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Bird Flu Alert: Kuwait

Kuwait has reported its first outbreak of bird flu since November// 2005.

Test samples sent to a laboratory in UK have reported positive for the virus H5N1, after officials suspected a case of bird flu, in sick and dying birds such as falcons, turkeys and chickens.

The immediate measures taken were the closure of the Kuwaiti zoo; one of the sources, chicken and turkey farms, as well as falcon farms and bird clinics. Export and import of birds and their meat is now prohibited. Medication has been given to those who were in close contact with the birds.

According to Ahmed al-Shatti, who is a member of the national team mandated to deal with any outbreak of the disease, there have been no human cases so far. A control room has been set up to monitor and combat the situation and to deal with other emergencies.

Since it began ravaging Asian poultry farms in late 2003, the H5N1 strain of the bird flu has killed at least 167 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Although it remains difficult for humans to catch, health authorities across the world are monitoring the strain out of concern it could mutate into a form that easily spreads from person to person, sparking a pandemic.

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