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thai situation worsens!

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    Avian flu found in nine wild bird species in Thailand?

    BANGKOK, Thailand

    A deadly strain of bird flu has been found in nine species of wild birds in Thailand, an official said Tuesday.

    The discovery comes amid worries that the H5N1 virus could mutate to a form that could spread among humans, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions of people.

    The strain was found in carcasses and anal swab samples of birds native to five provinces in Thailand, said an official from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    The birds, which were tested in October and November, lived near farms and schools, he said.

    Bird flu swept through farms across Asia this year, ravaging the poultry industry as more than 100 million birds were culled in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

    The disease also jumped to humans, killing 12 people in Thailand and 20 in Vietnam, but there's no concrete evidence yet of human-to-human transmission.

    World Health Organization officials last month warned that a global flu pandemic, most likely triggered by bird flu, is virtually inevitable and could kill as many as 7 million people.

    Scientists have been aware that the virus was spreading to species besides chickens and are especially concerned that it could infect ducks, which can carry the virus without succumbing to it, vastly increasing its potential to spread.

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