- (Reuters) -- China confirmed a bird flu outbreak in the
southwestern province of Sichuan, a Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]
official said, adding cold weather and Chinese New Year holidays could
mean more cases to come.
- More than 1800 poultry were found dead on 22 Dec 2005
on a farm in Sichuan's Dazhu county, and Agriculture Ministry officials
sent to the area confirmed the birds had the H5N1 strain of the virus.
Since then, 12 900 poultry in the region have been culled to try to contain
the virus, which is found mostly in birds but which scientists fear could
mutate into a form that can pass easily between people, leading to a pandemic.
- In response to the latest outbreak, Hong Kong's government
said it had stopped processing requests to import live poultry and poultry
meat from Sichuan.
- Scientists are worried, because the virus, although hard
for humans to catch, has killed more than half the people reported to have
been infected. Since late 2003, more than 70 people have died in Asia from
bird flu, and the virus is endemic in poultry flocks in parts of the region,
highlighting the urgency in trying to control the disease and prevent more
- "In wintertime, we really are concerned because
the risk is higher. The more the environment is ideal for the virus, the
more outbreaks we are expecting," said Noureddin Mona, China representative
for the FAO.
- China has confirmed 7 human cases of bird flu, including
3 deaths. Last year , the country had more than 30 outbreaks of bird
flu in poultry and culled and vaccinated millions of birds, but officials
say the preponderance of small family farms, a lack of well-trained local
officials and the world's biggest poultry population will make it hard
to contain the disease. "The problem in China is about 50-60 percent
of the poultry is operated on small-scale farms in the backyard, which
provides the ideal life for the virus to jump between different species
of poultry," Mona said. He also repeated warnings from the Agriculture
Ministry that the risk of the virus spreading could be higher during the
Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls at the end of January this year ,
as meat consumption and the transport of live poultry increases.
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- According to an official Chinese notification to the
OIE dated 3 Jan 2006, the above mentioned outbreak occurred in the village
Liuyan (Dazhu county, Sichuan province), starting 22 Dec 2005. The positive
result (highly pathogenic avian influenza H5) by the National Avian Influenza
Reference Laboratory, Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, was obtained
on 3 Jan 2006. The pathogen was isolated by SPF eggs inoculation, which
required 2 passages.
- An interactive map, showing China's affected provinces,
is available at http://poultrymed.com/files/index.html (go to "maps").
- Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural
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