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Migratory birds blamed for Sichuan outbreak
By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-05 06:11

CHENGDU: Migrating birds may have triggered the country's latest bird flu outbreak in Dazhu County, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, a local veterinary official said yesterday.

Migratory birds blamed for Sichuan outbreak
Two birds fly across a lake in Kunming in China's southwest Yunnan province January 4, 2006. China confirmed a bird flu outbreak in the southwestern province of Sichuan January 3,2006. [Reuters]

"The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation. But it is most likely to have been spread by migratory birds, since no bird flu has been reported in other parts of Sichuan or neighbouring Chongqing Municipality," said Su Lin of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Health.

Su, chief of the Emergency Response Office under the department, said Dazhu is where migratory birds from North China such as white cranes stop before flying further south to spend winter.

Dazhu County is nearly 400 kilometres east of provincial capital Chengdu.

Although most migratory birds from the north have left Sichuan for the south, some remain and will not leave until Spring Festival, which starts on January 29, said Su.

Su said that nobody has been infected with the H5N1 virus in Dazhu, as the blood tests of all the 16 people in close contact with the dead poultry were negative.

In Beijing, Chief Veterinary Officer Jia Youling yesterday said the Ministry of Agriculture had sent an expert team to Dazhu to guide control efforts.

In line with China's animal epidemic prevention regulations, the epidemic site in Dazhu is being put under quarantine isolation for a minimum of 21 days.

Jia said he believed the isolation would be lifted on schedule in three weeks.

Between December 22 and 25, 1,800 chickens and ducks died in three households in Yangjia Town's Liuyan Village. Most buyers were calm about the situation in farm produce markets in Chengdu yesterday, even though many famous Sichuan dishes contain chicken.

Liu Xiaorong, a high school teacher, said: "Dazhu is far from Chengdu. And I believe the government can stop the spread of bird flu."

A spokesperson from the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government said yesterday on the official website of the HKSAR Government that Hong Kong would suspend imports of live poultry and poultry meat from Sichuan.

(China Daily 01/05/2006 page2)

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