New Outbreak of Deadly Bird Flu in Chinas Anhui


HONG KONG — ; Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui have instigated emergency public health plans following an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Chaohu city, RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin services report.

Tests carried out on a chicken which died at the farm in the city's Juchao district discovered the lethal H5N1 bird flu virus which ravaged Asia's poultry industry earlier this year and killed 24 people in Vietnam and Thailand, China's Agriculture Ministry was quoted as saying in official Chinese media. About 100 million chickens across the region were slaughtered to halt its spread.

Local health officials confirmed the outbreak. "Yes that's right," an official at a health prevention station in Chaohu city told RFA. "Definitely, [the area has] been sealed off."

Zhen Jun, a respiratory specialist at southern China's Guangdong No.1 Hospital told RFA's Mandarin service: "Mostly they will cull all the chickens within a three-km (two-mile) radius and isolate all the people who look after them."

Asked about the probability of human infections, Zhen said H5N1 only rarely jumped to humans but declined to elaborate on the likelihood of that happening in China.

"Mostly that virus very rarely jumps direct to humans from chickens, but if there are no pigs to act as an intermediate stage, it can't jump to a form to infect human cells," he said.

Chinese health authorities lifted the last quarantine restrictions on two areas in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and the Guangxi regional capital of Nanning on March 16. China has reported 49 cases of bird flu in the most recent outbreak, but Xinhua said that no human infections had yet been reported in China.

Experts at the ministry said that migrants or wild water birds might have spread the virus, Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

The area around the chicken farm had been isolated by the local government following the death report in accordance with China's Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention, the agency said.

Local health authorities had ordered the killing of all the poultry within a three-km (two-mile) radius of the chicken farm and vaccinated all the poultry within a five-km (three-mile) radius of the affected area, it said.

The Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health said 8,160 birds had been killed in Anhui, 1,520 by flu, and the rest in the following slaughter.

The group, better known by its French initials, OIE, said it was "very possible that the disease was transmitted by migratory birds and wild waterfowl," citing information provided by the Chinese Agriculture Ministry.

Vietnam has also reported bird flu outbreaks in six provinces over the past three months that have killed or forced the slaughter of more than 10,000 birds, although lab tests have not yet identified the virus strain. Local governments in the Mekong Delta have been ordered to inspect poultry farms twice a week.

Sources in Vietnam told RFA's Vietnamese service that the emergency directive was issued last week and signed by Permanent Vice Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Ben Tre Province authorities confirmed that tests on poultry were positive for the H5 strain of bird flu. Further tests were being conducted on whether it's the lethal H5N1 variant.

Bird flu wiped out about 1.1 million poultry in Ben Tre Province earlier this year

Thailand declared two "red zones" around affected farms where authorities are culling thousands of chickens. Lab tests confirmed the new outbreaks in Ayuthaya and Prathumthani provinces, the government said.

China confirmed its first bird flu case caused by H5N1 on Jan. 27 at a duck farm in the southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. The epidemic then spread to several provinces.


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