KUWAIT,(Reuters) – Kuwait’s health ministry said on Friday it had found seven new cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in chicken, falcon and quail, raising to 46 the total number of infected birds in the Gulf Arab country.
Although 100 handlers and their families have tested negative for the disease Kuwait is closing poultry shops in residential areas for three months in a campaign to curb its spread, health ministry official Ahmed al-Shatti told Reuters.
Shatti, spokesman for a government team set up to combat bird flu, said Kuwait had culled thousands of birds since the outbreak began last month, but did not give a specific figure.
Kuwait confirmed 39 cases of bird flu last month but said 20 of them were found in falcons at the zoo and a farm in the south of the country. The rest did not belong to poultry farms but were domestic birds caged in people’s yards.
It has already banned the import of live birds and closed the country’s zoo. Kuwait last reported a case of bird flu in a flamingo in 2005.
Avian flu has killed 167 people since 2003, according to the U.N. World Health Organisation. Globally at least 200 million birds have died or been slaughtered because of the disease.