China poultry farm hit in new outbreak of H5N6 bird flu

Chinese health workers check on dead poultry after an outbreak of bird flu in January 2014.

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Nearly 18,000 geese died on a poultry farm in northeast China after being stricken by the H5N6 bird flu virus last month, the agriculture ministry said.

As many as 20,550 geese on the farm in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, showed symptoms of avian flu and 17,790 birds died, the ministry said on its website on Monday.

The ministry sealed off and sterilized the infected area, besides culling and safely disposing of almost 69,000 geese, it added.

The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed that the geese had the H5N6 virus.

In May, a 49-year-old man in China's Sichuan province died of the H5N6 bird flu virus, which domestic media described as the world's first known human infection with the strain.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)