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Bird Flu Found in Togo

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu was confirmed for the first time in Togo on Friday after tests were carried out on poultry found dead in the west African nation.

"The tests done in Accra (Ghana) are positive. We are now waiting for the results of those carried out in Italy," Agriculture Minister Yves Nagou Mado told AFP.

Several thousand poultry birds have been found dead in Togo recently, most of them in the past week on the one farm in Sigbehoue, 45 kilometres (30 miles) east of the capital Lome.

The agriculture ministry said on Thursday that measures had been taken to try and contain the possible spread of the virus, notably the slaughtering and disposal of infected poultry.

Before Friday, no cases of H5N1 bird flu had been officially discovered in Togo, which since October last year had banned the import of live poultry and poultry products from countries affected by the virus.

Neighbouring Ghana recorded Thursday its third outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in Aflao, a town on the border with Togo.

Worldwide, the virus has killed 191 people out of 313 infected patients since reappearing in late 2003, according to a World Health Organisation toll dated June 15.

Experts fear the death toll would multiply rapidly if the virus were to mutate and become easily transmitted between humans.

A flu pandemic in 1918, just after the end of World War I, killed 20 million people worldwide.


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