BANGKOK, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in a second province in northern Thailand, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said on Friday.
Tests confirmed the outbreak in Phichit, 345 km (215 miles) north of Bangkok, where about 30 village chickens died last week, Livestock Development Department chief Sakchai Sriboonsue told Reuters.
"Laboratory tests showed the chickens had the H5N1 virus, the second case this year. We have already ordered the slaughter of chickens in the area," he said.
The first outbreak of 2008 was confirmed last week in neighbouring Nakhon Sawan province, where more than 4,000 chickens died, forcing the culling of 10,000 more.
There were four outbreaks in Thailand last year, but no new reports of human infections in the country where H5N1 has killed 17 people since 2003.
Although bird flu remains an animal disease, experts fear the H5N1 virus could mutate into a form easily passed from human to human. Millions of people could die because they would have no immunity to the new strain. (Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Sanjeev Miglani)