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India faces bird flu 'disaster'

INDIA'S worst ever outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu could turn into a disaster, an official warned, as five people were reportedly quarantined with symptoms of the virus.

More than 100,000 bird deaths have been reported, and teams are racing to cull two million chickens and ducks.

The Times of India reported five people in West Bengal have been quarantined with "clinical symptoms" of avian flu - including fever, coughing, sore throats and muscle aches - after handling affected poultry.

If the tests are positive for H5N1, this will be the first case of human infection in India, home to 1.1 billion people and hit by bird flu among poultry three times since 2006.

Image Above: Across the border ... a Bangladeshi livestock vendor at a roadside market in Dhaka, where bird flu has worsened with the onset of the winter / AFP
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