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China reports two new bird flu outbreaks

by 5m Editor
10 November 2005, at 12:00am

CHINA - China has discovered two new outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in poultry in the northeast, bringing the total number of outbreaks to six since the beginning of last month, Chinese media said on Thursday.

China reports two new bird flu outbreaks - CHINA - China has discovered two new outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in poultry in the northeast, bringing the total number of outbreaks to six since the beginning of last month, Chinese media said on Thursday.

Premier Wen Jiabao warned this week that the country was facing a "very serious situation" as the disease had not been brought under control and was likely to spread.

"It certainly is a significant outbreak," said World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman Roy Wadia in Beijing. "It seems that they are extremely concerned about it."

Xinhua news agency said the new outbreaks occurred in villages near the cities of Fuxin and Jinzhou, both of which are close to Heishan in Liaoning province, where last week's outbreak was reported.

About 1,100 chickens died in the latest two outbreaks and the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed on Wednesday that the virus was H5N1, the official China Daily said.

The WHO has sent a joint letter with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation to Chinese authorities, seeking more details on the Liaoning cases.

"We have done everything in line with the requirements and standards of the central government," an official at the Liaoning Animal Supervision and Management Bureau told Reuters, declining to give details.

In eastern Shandong -- the source of half of China's poultry exports -- 200 million birds, or a fifth of the province's total, had been vaccinated and the rest were expected to be vaccinated by the middle of this month, Xinhua said.

Hunan Probe: Pigs Tested Positive For Bird Flu

China has yet to report a human case of bird flu, which has killed over 60 people in Asia since 2003, though the WHO is helping probe a possible human case in Hunan province, which had an outbreak in October.

A WHO team looking into the Hunan case is expected to arrive early next week, Wadia said, adding he did not know when they might get the first test results.

Hong Kong media said that some pigs in the part of Hunan where the outbreak was reported had tested positive for bird flu, but an official at the provincial agricultural bureau denied they had even carried out such tests.

The Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing declined to comment.

Pigs can carry human flu viruses, which can combine with the avian viruses, swap genes and create virulent new strains, health experts say.

The virus remains hard for people to catch. But scientists say that, like all influenza viruses, it is steadily mutating and could acquire the genetic changes that make it easy to pass among humans.

Authorities had culled almost 700,000 birds within a 3 km (2 mile) radius of the Liaoning outbreak sites, Xinhua said. More than 100 people had been quarantined and wells, streets and rivers had been disinfected.

China has already killed 10 million birds in Liaoning.

In other parts of China, some zoos have stopped feeding lions and tigers with live birds, the China Daily said.

Sixty four people are confirmed to have died from bird flu in Asia since December 2003 -- 42 in Vietnam, 13 in Thailand, five in Indonesia and four in Cambodia.

Indonesia reported its sixth death on Wednesday, but this is still subject to final test results.

Source: Reuters - 10th November 2005

5m Editor