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China sees new bird flu outbreak

China has confirmed its second outbreak in a week of bird flu while authorities in Indonesia have reported the country's fourth human death from the virus.

Last Modified: 26 Oct 2005 05:43 GMT
A poultry seller in China, where no human cases are reported

China has confirmed its second outbreak in a week of bird flu while authorities in Indonesia have reported the country's fourth human death from the virus.

The Chinese outbreak occured among flocks of geese in the eastern province of Anhui, although to date China has seen no human deaths from the virus.

The latest Indonesian victim, a 23-year-old man from Bogor, West Java, was admitted into hospital in late September and died two days later, said Hariadi Wibisono, a Ministry of Health official.

However, the cause of death was only confirmed as bird flu on Monday after tests at a laboratory in Hong Kong , Wibisono and a World Health Organisation official said.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has swept through poultry populations in many parts of Asia since 2003, killing more than 60 people.

Most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds.

FAO report

China's Agriculture Ministry confirmed on Monday that the birds died of the H5N1 virus near Tianchang, a city in Anhui province, said Noureddin Mona, the China representative for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

A report to the World Organisation for Animal Health said the outbreak was detected on 20 October. It said 140,000 birds had been vaccinated and that quarantines and other precautions were taken.

According to Mona, about 45,000 birds have been culled within a 4km radius of the site.

A health worker grabs a chicken
in Hsinkang Park, Taiwan

Days earlier, another new outbreak of the disease was found in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. 

About 2600 chickens and ducks were found dead at a breeding facility, sparking fears that humans were at risk of being infected.

Elsewhere in Asia, in the Indian state of West Bengal, more than 1000 migratory birds died in a sanctuary after a cyclone a week ago, prompting authorities to order tests for avian flu.

"The birds may have died following a cyclone that ripped through the sanctuary about a week ago. But we are concerned over the bird flu threat from neighbouring China and other countries," West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Burman said on Tuesday.

  

"Blood samples and carcasses of the birds have been sent for serum tests to a diagnostic laboratory of a state-run college in (the state capital) Kolkata," Burman said.

  

He said the birds were mostly from China and were found dead in the Kulik sanctuary, 500km north of Kolkata, Burman said.    

 

Greater measures

On Monday, a senior UN official said greater measures must be taken to stamp out bird flu in Asia's flocks, as health ministers from around the world met in Canada to discuss how to tackle a possible pandemic if the virus mutates and becomes easily transmitted between humans.

The UN's FAO plans to launch a "military-like" campaign, including house-to-house searches for infected birds, to tackle bird flu in Indonesia, saying a similar move in Thailand was successful.

"... we are concerned over the bird flu threat from neighbouring China and other countries"

Jogesh Burman,
West Bengal Forest Minister

"The serious bird flu situation in Indonesia, where several human death cases have been recorded recently, requires a strong coordinated response involving all players from the national level down to the many districts and local communities," Joseph Domenech, FAO's chief veterinary officer, said in a statement released on Monday.

"The FAO will bring in a team of experienced Thai veterinarians to share their experience with Indonesian animal health experts and to train hundreds of animal health technicians," said Peter Roeder, an animal health officer who will head the FAO team in Indonesia.

"We believe that Indonesia can learn a lot from the Thai experience."

Discussions

Health experts met on Monday in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, to review European readiness for a possible human flu pandemic after the H5N1 bird flu strain spread
from Asia to Russia, Turkey and Romania.

The FAO's head, Jacques Diouf, said in Canada on Monday that countries must not overlook the goal of controlling bird flu in Southeast Asia while being preoccupied with the development of antiviral drugs for humans.

The WHO says Europe should
learn from Asia on bird flu

"As the world takes prudent measures to prepare for a major human pandemic, greater measures must be taken to stop this disease, in its tracks, at its source, in animals," Diouf said. "This is very possible. It can be done."

Shigeru Omi, the World Health Organisation's director for the Western Pacific region, told the meeting of health experts in Denmark that Europeans had a "golden opportunity" to learn from the successes and failures of efforts to contain the virus in Asia.

"Asia remains ground zero in the war on avian flu and still represents the most serious risk to global public health," Omi said.

Meanwhile, dead wild geese in western Germany have shown preliminary positive test results for a form of bird flu, but they died from poisoning, not the virus, according to a local health official.

Further tests would be needed to confirm the virus and to tell whether it was the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, Stefan Brent, president of the bureau carrying out the testing, said at a press conference in Koblenz in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz on Tuesday.

Source:
Agencies
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