Bird Flu Alarm

2005-11-10-Kuwait Announces Bird Flu in Fowl

Understanding Avian Influenza

2005-11-10-Kuwait Announces Bird Flu in Fowl

Kuwait Announces Bird Flu in Fowl, First Such Cases in Gulf Region

KUWAIT CITY Nov 10, 2005 ? Kuwait has detected two cases of bird flu in fowl, a senior official said Thursday, but it was not clear if the virus strain was the deadly version that has devastated poultry in Asia and has triggered fears of a human pandemic.

The infected birds in Kuwait were the first known cases of the virus in the Persian Gulf region.

Sheik Fahd Salem Al-Ali Al Sabah, the head of the Public Authority for Agriculture and Fisheries, told reporters the first case was found in an imported bird and was discovered at the airport. The second case, probably a migrating wild fowl, was found on the beach, he said.

The official said the country had reported no cases of bird flu among humans.

Dr. Mohammed al-Mihana of the Public Authority told The Associated Press that tests in a local laboratory indicated the strain was H5, but it was not determined if the strain was N1 or N2.

Kuwait said it wouldn't conduct further tests to determine the exact strain.

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has devastated poultry stocks and killed more than 60 people in Asia, and has generated fears it could trigger a human pandemic if it mutated. The H5N2 strain is a mild variant that is believed to cause little illness.

"We are satisfied with our tests, and we find no need for further investigations," al-Mihana said.

The first case was discovered at the airport quarantine center in a peacock. The second was in a water bird at the beach. Both birds were culled, he said.

It was not clear if any wider culling of birds was planned.

Sheik Fahd said precautions were immediately taken to protect workers at the airport and around the site where the other bird was found.

Last month, Kuwait said it had earmarked $17 million to buy drugs to combat bird flu.

The entire Middle East region has been worried about possible outbreaks because the region sits on important migratory bird waterways south. Jordan and Israel have been among the other countries trying to impose precautions to prevent outbreaks.

Migratory birds have already spread the virus to Russia, Turkey and Romania.

Officials in the United Arab Emirates also have said they are highly concerned about bird flu appearing there.

The Kuwaiti government has banned the import of wild birds from all countries, plus poultry from Asian states. The all-out ban included "water and land" birds as well as pet and exotic ones.

Understanding Avian Influenza