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Minister: Stay away from wild birds
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-15 05:41

Minister of Health Gao Qiang says bird flu is not highly infectious, but has warned people not to touch wild birds.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), Gao said that it was not easy for humans to become infected with the virus from dead birds or poultry.

He said that while vast numbers of people have had contact with dead birds, there had only been around a dozen cases in the country of human bird flu.

Gao said that experts are investigating whether a certain deficiency in certain people makes them more prone to contracting the virus.

He denied that the H5N1 virus found in China was different from that in other parts of the world.

He said the best way to control the outbreak was still containing the epidemic situation in poultry.

He called on people to avoid contact between domestic poultry and wild birds, as the major infection source of the virus was still migratory birds.

"By decreasing the infection of domestic poultry, the number of human cases is naturally brought down," he said.

Gao urged people to keep their distance from wild birds and not to prey, sell, kill or eat them, to minimize the chances of being infected.

"We can cut down on many diseases as long as we get along harmoniously with nature," he said.

The slaughter of live poultry in urban markets should be banned, he said, adding that Beijing has done very well in this respect.

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