KUWAIT, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Kuwait has found the feared H5N1 avian flu in one of two infected birds culled by authorities in the Gulf Arab state, an official said on Friday.
This is the first known case of H5N1 in the Gulf Arab region but officials could not say whether the bird had the highly pathogenic strain of the virus which has killed more than 60 people in Asia.
Kuwait had said on Thursday the two birds had the H5N2 strain of avian flu that is dangerous to birds but less virulent than H5N1.
"One was H5N1 and the second was H5N2," Sheikh Fahd al-Salem al-Sabah, head of the public authority for agricultural affairs told Reuters.
Authorities had found one case a few weeks ago at Kuwait airport in a shipment of exotic birds imported from Asia. The whole shipment was culled.
Agriculture inspectors found the second infected bird, a migratory flamingo, a few days ago on Kuwait”s southern coast.
Sheikh Fahd said it was the migratory bird that had H5N1.
The two forms of H5N1 are low pathogenic and highly pathogenic. The deadly Asian form is the latter.
John Oxford, Professor of Virology at Queen Mary”s School of Medicine in London, said he was unaware of any cases of the low pathogenic form jumping into humans and that it was much less dangerous to chickens and turkeys.
But he adds that the low pathogenic form can mutate into the high one so it is not without its danger signs.