AN UNKNOWN bacteria is suspected of causing the deaths of nine farmers in southern China after they came in contact with sick pigs or sheep.
Six others were in critical condition after the illness surfaced in the city of Ziyang, in southern Sichuan province.
The victims had symptoms such as fever, vomiting and bleeding from blood vessels beneath the skin, health officials said, adding that it did not appear to be bird-flu related.
A number of sheep had fallen sick in the area and the son of one of the victims said his father had fallen ill after slaughtering and eating part of a sick pig.
Meanwhile, Indonesia yesterday culled 18 pigs found to be infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, which has killed at least 57 people in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia since 2003.