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UN warns about bird flu fear as mutant strain hits China and Vietnam

August 30, 2011 - London

The United Nations has warned China and Vietnam against the spread of avian flu that can put human life in great danger.

They warned that avian flu has shown signs of resurgence, while a mutant strain - able to sidestep vaccines - could be spreading in Asia.

According to veterinary officials, the variant appeared in Vietnam and China and its risk to humans cannot be predicted.

Virus circulation in Vietnam threatens Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia, where eight people have died after becoming infected this year, they warned.

The World Health Organization said that the Bird Flu has killed 331 people since 2003.

It has also killed or provoked the culling of more than 400 million domestic poultry worldwide and caused an estimated 20 billion dollars of economic damage.

The virus had been eliminated from most of the 63 countries infected at its 2006 peak, which saw 4,000 outbreaks across the globe, but remains endemic in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

And the number of cases has been rising again since 2008, apparently because of migratory bird movements, said UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth.

"Wild birds may introduce the virus, but people's actions in poultry production and marketing spread it," the BBC quoted him as saying.


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