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China confirms first cases of bird flu
2004-01-28 00:00


The national bird flu reference laboratory confirmed on Jan. 27 that the death of ducks in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was caused by the bird flu virus, but no infections in human beings have been found.

Following reports of ducks dying on a duck farm in Dingdang Town, Long'an County on Friday, the local government slaughtered 14,000 poultry within a three kilometer radius of the duck farm, and vaccinated all poultry within five kilometers of the duck farm.

After testing of samples sent in by the local government the lab confirmed that the deaths were caused by the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

The local government has closed off the area in accordance with China's Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention.

A separate report on Monday said deaths were reported on a chicken farm in Wuxue city in central Hubei Province and ducks were also said to have died on a farm in Wugang city in neighboring Hunan Province. Local veterinary departments initially diagnosed the cause of the deaths as suspect deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus. Local governments have slaughtered and vaccinated birds in the area, and sent samples to relevant authorities.

No people have been infected so far and the epidemic is under control, the government sources said.

Jia Youling, chief expert on farming of the Ministry of Agriculture, said on Tuesday that prevention work against bird flu dated back over 100 years and many nations had accumulated valuable experience, which proved the feasibility of preventing a serious outbreak.

The disease can be controlled if effective measures are taken to block the affected area, kill all the infected poultry and sanitize affected areas, said Jia.

Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health have informed the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization of the cases, and said exchange and cooperation in bird flu prevention and control was welcome.

The Ministry of Agriculture issued emergency directives on Jan.20 requiring veterinary and quarantine units to report the bird flu situation to higher departments every day. It was the second emergency notice the ministry had promulgated following the outbreak of bird flu in Vietnam, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan early this month.

The notice in particular asked local governments to step up the quarantine of poultry and the monitoring of the H5N1 strain of bird flu. It also asked local governments to set up emergency teams and store materials for emergency use.

"If cases of bird flu are spotted, all poultry within three kilometers of the site must be slaughtered and all poultry within five kilometers of the polluted region must be vaccinated immediately," said the notice.

Also on Jan. 20, six ministries and state administrations jointly issued a ban on live poultry and product imports from regions hit by the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Since the beginning of January, government departments at all levels have been maintaining high alert to guarantee the safety of food and people's health during the one-week traditional Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, which began Jan. 22.

The deadly virus - highly contagious among chickens - is believed to spread to humans through contact with infected birds, but there have been no reports of the disease spreading from person to person.

China to strengthen bird flu prevention

Under the direction of the State Council, the Ministry will make painstaking efforts to monitor the situation and prevent further spread of the disease. The Ministry is willing to strengthen exchange and cooperation with relevant world organizations. The Ministry has also made appropriate arrangements for prevention work in other areas.

After the confirmation of China's first bird flu cases on Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture has pledged to strengthen monitoring and increase international cooperation to prevent further spread.

Ministry spokesman Jia Youling said that after the cases were confirmed in Long'an County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the local government sealed the affected area, destroyed all poultry within a radius of three kilometers and quarantined all poultry within a radius of five kilometers in linewith laws and regulations.

The ministry also launched prevention measures in areas currently free from the virus, said Jia, an animal husbandry expert.

The national bird flu reference laboratory Tuesday confirmed that the ducks reported dead in Long'an had been infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

Sources with the government said no human beings had been infected.


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