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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kiwi chook farms given all clear

CD Kiwi chook farms given all clear

"A study of New Zealand chicken farms has given the all clear to highly pathogenic bird flu.

Biosecurity New Zealand has completed its first survey of commercial broiler and layer farms.

The study is the first phase of an on-going surveillance programme to meet the country's international reporting obligations regarding avian influenza.

The highly pathogenic virus of worldwide concern is an Asian strain of the N5H1 type which has never been found in New Zealand.

The virus can transmit from birds to humans. Since 2003, 246 people have contracted the virus in 10 countries, and 144 people have died.

But the main concern for authorities is the potential for the virus to mutate into a form that can be passed easily from human to human, resulting in a pandemic that could kill millions.

So far, neither New Zealand nor Pacific Island nations have suffered any cases of bird flu, but the virus has spread from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Ron Thornton says the risk of the virus affecting birds here is low."

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