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Myanmar reports new bird flu outbreak

Myanmar reported a new outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on Monday, the country's fifth bout with the deadly virus strain in as many weeks.

About 1,000 chickens died at a poultry farm in the town of Htaukkyant, north of Yangon, between Wednesday and Friday of last week, said Than Hla, the Livestock Ministry's director of disease control.

"Laboratory tests confirmed the H5N1 virus in some of the nearly 1,000 chickens that died," he said. He did not specify the number of birds that tested positive for the disease.

It was the fifth reported outbreak since Feb. 28, all in areas outside of Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. Since then, authorities have slaughtered nearly 60,000 chickens and other birds, Than Hla said.

The recent outbreak was believed to have spread through the sale and transport of poultry in the area, the New Light of Myanmar reported Monday.

More than 6,000 chickens at farms near the outbreak have been killed as a precaution, the newspaper reported.

Earlier this month, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization called for more stringent measures to control the movement of poultry, poultry products and chicken feed to contain the spread of H5N1 in Myanmar.

Myanmar has not reported any human infections from H5N1.

The disease has killed at least 170 people worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry farms in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization.

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