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China Confirms Bird Flu Outbreak in Guangdong

China has confirmed an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus among ducks in an outlying district of the southern metropolis of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, the Agriculture Ministry said.

The ministry said on its Web site (www.agri.gov.cn) late on Monday that 36,130 ducks had been culled following the outbreak in Guangzhou's Panyu District.

"At present, the epidemic has been bought under effective control," it said. The strain was confirmed as a subtype of the H5N1 strain by the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory, the ministry added.

There have been no other reports of outbreaks in nearby areas, it said.

On Monday, Hong Kong suspended chilled and frozen duck and geese imports from Guangdong following China's announcement that that poultry there was suspected to be infected with H5N1.

China's last case of the virus in poultry was in May, in the central province of Hunan.

With the world's biggest poultry population and millions of backyard birds roaming free, China is at the center of the fight against bird flu.

Scientists fear the bird flu virus could mutate into a form that could pass easily from person to person, sparking a global pandemic.

There have been 25 human cases, including 16 deaths, from the virus in China and dozens of outbreaks in birds that have led to the culling of millions of fowl.