Malaysian authorities have raised an alert for northeast Kelantan state after the virulent H5N1 bird flu virus was found to have spread to poultry in more villages. Some 24,000 birds have been culled in the state since the H5N1 strain was reported March 6 after several backyard poultry died. Kelantan official Che Abdullah Mat Nawi says 20 villages are affected so far and authorities are getting more manpower and resources to survey a wider area so they can contain the spread of the virus. He insisted today it was not yet "an emergency situation" as no cases of the virus spreading to humans have been detected. The H5N1 strain is highly contagious and the World Health Organization says it has caused hundreds of deaths worldwide over the last decade.
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