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Outbreak kills 9,000 chickens in Liaoning
By Wu Yong in Shenyang and Zhao Huanxin in Beijing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-05 06:16

The latest outbreak of bird flu, which has killed 8,940 chickens in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, has been brought under control, the provincial government said on Friday.

The fourth case of infection China has reported in a month may have been caused by migratory birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said. No human deaths have been reported in the outbreak.

Minister Du Qinglin and a team of experts have rushed to the scene of the outbreak in Gongtai Village, Badaohao Town of Heishan County, a ministry statement said.

Heishan County lies around 300 kilometres northeast of Beijing and is on the migratory bird route from East Asia to Australia. More than 20 magpies and other wild birds have been found dead in the county, according to Fu Jingwu, deputy chief of the Liaoning Provincial Animal Health Supervision Administration.

"The source of the outbreak might be from migratory birds," the ministry's statement quoted unidentified experts as saying.

In line with State law, local agricultural and health authorities have culled 369,900 poultry within a 3-kilometre radius of the outbreak site and vaccinated 13.9 million others, the statement said.

Areas affected by the epidemic have been cordoned off and 30 checking stations and disinfection points set up around them. More than 3,000 personnel and 50 tons of disinfectant were deployed.

The provincial government has earmarked 5 million yuan (US$625,000) as compensation to local farmers for the loss of their birds.

The death of some chickens was first detected at household farms in Badaohao Town on October 26. At first, local vets suspected New Castle disease was to blame, and reported the case to the Liaoning animal health agency.

On November 1, the agency said they were suspicious the problem was avian influenza.

On Thursday the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed the Liaoning case involved the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, according to a report the ministry sent to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

Besides the measures taken in Heishan County, Liaoning plans to implement a thorough check of birds for flu and carry out emergency immunisations of all poultry in the province, according to Fu.

He said supervision of transportation and logistics will be enhanced to prevent infected chickens and eggs from entering markets. "Up until now, the epidemic is still under control in Heishan," Fu said.

Liang Chuancheng, a biology professor at the local Shenyang Normal University, said now is the peak time for migratory birds in Liaoning Province, one of the major stopovers in northern Asia.

Birds first started flocking into Liaoning in mid-October. Most come from Siberia and usually stay in Liaoning for one to two weeks, according to Liang.

They then fly along the coastline to the south. But the prolonged autumn this year because of comparatively high temperatures has meant many wild fowl choose to stay in Liaoning for a longer time.

Liang said the migratory birds will leave at the end of this month when the temperature plummets to under zero degrees.

Elsewhere, health departments in Guangdong Province and Hong Kong agreed on Thursday to reinforce co-operation in monitoring and reporting any outbreak of public health events including flu, bird flu and other new diseases, according to the Guangdong Provincial Health Department.

In Shanghai, the authorities are planning to build an advanced animal disease prevention and control centre, equipped with a bio-safety level three laboratory (P3 Lab), to strengthen tracking and research of the sources of animal diseases and enhance warning capacity.

It is believed the centre will markedly improve Shanghai's early-warning capacity against animal diseases, in order to prevent and control disastrous diseases like bird flu, said Zhang Suhua, deputy director of the municipal agriculture commission's animal husbandry office, on Friday.

Xinhua contributed to this report

(China Daily 11/05/2005 page1)

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