China reports H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Hunan province

VIDEO: REUTERS
In this picture taken on Nov 17, 2019, a farmer tends to chickens at a farm in Heihe, China.
In this picture taken on Nov 17, 2019, a farmer tends to chickens at a farm in Heihe, China. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - China reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu at a farm in Shaoyang city of the southern province of Hunan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Saturday (Feb 1).

The case occurred on a farm with 7,850 chickens, 4,500 of which have died of the bird flu.

The ministry did not say when the outbreak occurred, or when the cull happened. However, the authorities have culled 17,828 poultry following the outbreak.

No human case of the H5N1 virus has been reported.

China is not alone in grappling with the H5N1 outbreak

India has reported an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N1 bird flu virus on a poultry farm in the central state of Chhattisgarh, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday, citing a report from India's fisheries and animal husbandry ministry.

The virus killed 5,634 out of 21,060 birds on the farm in Baikunthpur and all of the remaining birds were slaughtered, the Paris-based OIE said in an website alert.

Since 2003, the H5N1 avian flu has killed 455 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

The latest H5N1 outbreak comes as China and countries around the world are trying to tackle the Wuhan virus outbreak that saw the death toll surged to 304 as of the end of Saturday.

Across China, there were 2,590 new confirmed infections on Saturday, bringing the total accumulated number so far to 14,380.

The World Health Organisation this week declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

Still, the epidemic has led to mass evacuations of foreign citizens as airlines halt flights.