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Bird flu found on South Africa ostrich farm, no Chinese link seen

An ostrich fluffs up at an ostrich farm outside Oudtshoorn, some 450 kilometres (279 miles) east of Cape Town. Picture taken December 31, 20
An ostrich fluffs up at an ostrich farm outside Oudtshoorn, some 450 kilometres (279 miles) east of Cape Town. Picture taken December 31, 20

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - An outbreak of bird flu has hit an ostrich farm in South Africa, but authorities said it was unlikely to pose a threat to humans, though additional tests were being carried out after another strain killed eight people in China.

The outbreak has prompted restrictions on the movement of the big birds and their products in the Western Cape province, the Western Cape ministry of agriculture said in a statement on Tuesday.

Tests samples from an ostrich farm near Oudtshoorn, the centre of South Africa's ostrich export industry, found the presence of the H7N1 virus, the ministry said.

Another strain, H7N9, has killed eight people in eastern China since it was confirmed in humans for the first time last month.

Marna Sinclair, a state vet in the Oudtshoorn area, said there had been previous incidents of H7N1 viruses in the region, but that none were found to be related to the current Chinese strain and no people have fallen ill.

"There is no real concern. We doubt it is a related virus but are conducting tests to make sure," she said.

Two years ago, South Africa culled 10,000 ostriches after an outbreak of another, less virulent form of bird flu halted ostrich-meat exports to the European Union.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Jane Baird)

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