Bird flu outbreak confirmed in China
Updated: 2006-05-05 15:42
The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture Friday confirmed outbreak of bird flu
among wild birds in a remote areas Qinghai Province, northwest China.
The outbreak was confirmed by the national bird flu laboratory on
Wednesday, and the number of dead wild bird had risen to 123 by Thursday, the
ministry said on its website.
Seventeen dead wild geese were found in
the wetlands in Yulin county, Yulin prefecture in Qinghai Province on April 23,
and samples from the dead birds were sent to the state bird flu laboratory for
On May 3, the laboratory confirmed that these wild birds died of H5N1 virus
of bird flu.
The wetlands are more than 800 kilometers from the Qinghai Lake, where the
bird island is located. This plateau area is sparsely populated.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Qinghai Province, after
the dead geese were found, have taken all necessary measures to monitor and
sterilize the area, and to prevent human contacts with the wild
This is the second time H5N1 has turned up in Qinghai, a region of
high-altitude plains and mountains that sits on a prime migration route for
birds between Siberia and South Asia.
The first outbreak, a year ago,
was seen as a warning that the virus was poised to spread beyond China and
Southeast Asia. In the year since, outbreaks have occurred as far away as Europe
So far H5N1 has not evolved into a virus easily
transmissible among humans. The virus has been detected among birds in more than
50 countries, while nine countries have reported human cases, 113 of them fatal,
according to U.N. agencies.
The worry among disease experts is that the
farther the virus spreads, the greater the chances of contact between infected
birds and humans and the greater the likelihood it will mutate into a more
"Since this outbreak is in wild birds, it will increase
the sense of emergency," said Noureddin Mona, the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization's representative in Beijing. "Wild birds are difficult to control.
All countries have to be on alert."
Countries astride major migration
routes should set up observation posts to check for sick birds, Mona said, and
the FAO was looking to improve coordination with other agencies to monitor
Unlike the first outbreak a year ago when China
delayed allowing outside experts into Qinghai, authorities appeared to respond
relatively quickly this time. Mona said FAO experts are scheduled to investigate
the disease zone next week.
The Agriculture Ministry said that after
herders and forestry officials first reported finding dead bar-headed geese on
April 23 in Qinghai's Yushu county, the local government immediately dispatched
a group of veterinary experts to the area.
The area is lightly
populated. The ministry said no homes were raising domesticated fowl - a factor
that decreases the risks of further transmission. Herders were told to take
their livestock a few weeks early to summer grazing grounds, far away from the
infected area, the ministry statement added.
The government has also
disinfected the area and set up observation posts to monitor the migratory fowl.
In addition to bar-headed geese, a brown-headed gull and a ruddy shelduck were
also found dead, the statement said.