An outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 2,000 chicken on a poultry farm close to the Mekong River in Laos, Thai media Saturday quoted Lao government and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) officials as saying.
Veterinarians had slaughtered 6,000 more birds on the farm about 25 kilometers south of Vientiane, disinfected the cages and declared a five-kilometer surveillance zone, officials said. The outbreak is just across the river from Thailand.
"The H5N1 strain has been confirmed for this particular farm," Lao foreign ministry spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying.
"We have already taken all the measures deemed necessary to eradicate the virus. We have killed over 6,000 poultry on the farm and taken full measures according to the guidelines on bird flu," he said.
Ricarda Mondry, the FAO chief technical advisor on avian influenza in Laos, said the Xaythani district farm found 155 dead chickens on July 14, and about 2,000 dead birds the following day.
"The farmer informed the ministry of agriculture, and they took samples and they tested them in the National Animal Health Center laboratory and they were positive," the doctor said.
Samples were then sent to a Bangkok laboratory, where tests confirmed this week that the chicken had died of the H5N1 strain, she said.
"Now we are investigating in the surrounding area what is happening, whether the infection is coming from the outside, where the source of infections is," Mondry said.
"We are taking samples in a five-DU radius, where the movement is restricted now. Public awareness campaigns are being carried out in the villages."
In May this year Laos found the H5N1 virus in a single duck in a backyard farm near the capital Vientiane, but extensive testing in villages in following months had found no further cases.
Veterinarians are now investigating whether the source of the latest outbreak is free-roaming ducks, which can carry and spread the disease without showing symptoms themselves.