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UN Agency Says Bird Flu Confirmed in 4th Afghan Province

A U.N. official in Afghanistan says the H5N1 strain of bird flu has been found in a fourth Afghan province, and says that indicates the virus is slowly spreading around the country.

The spokesman for the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, Assadullah Azhari, says laboratory tests in Italy detected the virus in samples from dead chickens found in Kapisa province, northeast of the capital, Kabul.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has already been found in the capital, Kabul, and the eastern provinces of Logar and Nangarhar.

The U.N. official says there are strong suspicions the virus has reached two other provinces, Laghman and Parwan, but says further testing is needed.

The official says the FAO is supporting efforts by Afghan authorities to strengthen nationwide surveillance of suspected bird flu outbreaks.

No human cases of bird flu have been reported in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.