China's Bird Flu Outbreak 'Not a Real Concern': UN

by VR Sreeraman on  December 18, 2008 at 11:14 AM Bird Flu News   - G J E 4
The United Nations on Wednesday played down fears over an outbreak of bird flu in China, saying a few cases in winter wasn't a worry.
 China's Bird Flu Outbreak 'Not a Real Concern': UN
China's Bird Flu Outbreak 'Not a Real Concern': UN

Authorities in China announced on Tuesday that they had begun destroying and vaccinating poultry after the virus was detected in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

"We are going to see how it evolves. If for some reason there were more outbreaks and it was spreading, then I would say I am concerned, but today not at all," said Vincent Martin, senior technical adviser for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) in China.

"Today we are just monitoring the situation. Having a few outbreaks in the winter time in this place is not a real concern."

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed more than 200 people and ravaged poultry flocks worldwide since 2003, was found on a chicken farm in Dongtai city and in another farm in Haian county, China's Agriculture Ministry said.

The discovery had prompted local agricultural authorities to step up vaccinations, while culling 377,000 chickens in the area around the farms.

The virus had not been detected in any other locations.

China has had several bird flu outbreaks this year, leading to the deaths of three Chinese, according to earlier reports.

Martin said the FAO had been notified by Chinese authorities on Tuesday about the outbreak, which could have been triggered by migratory birds.

"The situation in China has been improving for the past four years and during the last year we had less outbreaks of avian flu," Martin said.

"The Chinese government is doing quite a lot of surveillance and they are also implementing a massive vaccination campaign."

The discovery in Jiangsu comes after an outbreak in Hong Kong, on the south coast of China, last week resulted in the slaughter of more than 90,000 chickens.

Source: AFP

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