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Five Malaysians in Hospital After Bird Flu Outbreak

Five Malaysians are in hospital with flu symptoms after an outbreak of deadly avian influenza among poultry in their village, the health minister said Friday. The five, aged between 11 months and 35 years, are in stable condition.

All live within 300 metres (328 yards) of the outbreak -- Malaysia's first in more than a year -- on the outskirts of the capital. "They went to the hospital to get treatment and have been isolated because of the symptoms," said Health Minister Chua Soi Lek in a statement released to the official Bernama news agency.

Chua said checks have been conducted by health officials on 476 houses and 3,204 residents of Sungai Buloh and a neighbouring village where 60 chickens have died of the H5N1 strain.

"So far, there's still no case which meets the definition of the avian influenza infection among humans detected," the minister said.

To contain the disease, over 3,000 birds have been slaughtered within a one-kilometre radius of the outbreak, Kamarudin Mohammed Isa, head of disease control at the Department of Veterinary Sciences, said on Friday.

"We have culled over 3,000 birds. In terms of area, we have finished one round. We have to do what we call mopping up and we may find more birds," Kamarudin told AFP.

The process will likely take another one to two days to complete, he said, adding that tests on further bird samples have been negative so far. Malaysia reported H5N1 outbreaks in February last year when it appeared in free-range chickens near Kuala Lumpur, triggering the slaughter of tens of thousands of birds.

There were no human cases. Five other outbreaks followed elsewhere but the country declared itself free of bird flu in June. H5N1 has killed 188 people and ravaged poultry flocks worldwide since 2003, according to the World Health Organisation.


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