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New Avian Flu Case Found in Canada

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MONTREAL, May 12 (AFP) - Canadian authorities have discovered a new case of bird flu in a duck and goose farm in western Canada, but health officials said Wednesday it is probably not the strain that has killed 24 people in Asia.

"Preliminary serology tests have found an H5 virus," Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) spokesman Marc Richard said, but he added that it is too soon to say whether it is the deadly H5N1 strain found in Asia.

"We have taken several samples to find out whether the virus was present and active," he said.

"But to this date, the test is negative," he added.

Whether or not H5 is present should be known Friday and "we will then be able to establish which type of N protein is involved," Richard said.

The antibodies of the H5 virus were found in a farm near Abbotsford, east of Vancouver in British Columbia.

Authorities closed until next Monday a 300-student school located across from the affected farm, which has 40,000 ducks and 600 geese.

Authorities are killing 19 million birds in the same region after the H7N3 strain, which does not pose a danger to humans, was discovered in February.

Bird flu has affected about 50 farms and led to bans of Canadian poultry exports.

A British Columbia government health official said it was too early to determine the risk posed by the new discovery to the population.

"It could range from an insignificant risk, no risk to human health, to a very serious threat to human health," said Dr. Andrew Larder, medical health officer of the Fraser Health Authority.

"H5N1 has never been isolated in North America to my knowledge," he added.



COPYRIGHT 2004 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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