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Togo Confirms Country's First Bird Flu Outbreak


The first outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in the West African nation of Togo has been confirmed a day after a third outbreak was discovered just across the border in Ghana.

Togo's agriculture minister, Yves Nagou, said Friday that tests carried out in neighboring Ghana confirmed preliminary test results done in Togo that identified the sample as H5N1 bird flu. Additional tests are being done in Italy.

Samples were taken 45 kilometers east of the capital, Lome, where several thousand birds died at a semi-industrial farm at Sigbehoue.

The remaining birds were culled and incinerated. Togo has taken other measures, including banning the import of poultry from countries with bird flu infections.

Ghana has had three H5N1 bird flu outbreaks, all in May and June of this year. The latest was discovered Thursday in the town of Aflao on the Togo border.

Several West African countries have reported similar cases of bird flu in poultry. Only Nigeria has reported a human bird flu death among West African nations.

The World Health Organization says 190 people worldwide have died from the virus since the outbreak began in 2003, most of them in Asia.

Bird flu is a virus that mainly affects poultry, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person and could set off a deadly epidemic.

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