Kuwait has detected two cases of bird flu in birds, 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 triggered fears of a human pandemic. Dr. Mohammed al-Mihana of the same public authority told The Associated Press that Kuwait laboratory tests found the bird flu strain to be H5, but it was not clear whether it was N1 or N2.
The H5N1 strain has devastated poultry stocks and killed more than 60 people in Asia. It has generated fears of a pandemic if it mutates into a version that can be passed among humans. The H5N2 strain is a mild variant that is believed to cause little illness.
The Kuwaiti government has banned the import of wild birds from all countries, plus poultry from infected states. The ban include "water and land" birds as well as pet and exotic ones. Despite the ban, birds continue to arrive at the airport, where they are quarantined and tested. The infected peacock was one such bird.
It is the first known case of the disease in the Middle East.
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