Ministries refute bird flu virus rumour

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-03 06:48

Citing a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao yesterday refuted reports that a new strain of bird flu has emerged in southern China.

An article in Tuesday's issue of the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( said a new strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus, called the "Fujian-like virus," because it was first found in Fujian Province, has emerged in southern China and become prevalent in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand.

News of the new virus was widely reported in foreign media.

Quoting the statement, Liu said: "China has noticed recent publications by some foreign academic publications about the bird flu situation in southern China, but their claims are totally different from the real situation.

"Since 2004, China has been keeping a close eye on the bird flu situation in its southern regions.

"Gene sequence analysis shows that all the variants of the virus found in southern China share high uniformity, meaning they all belong to the same gene type.

"No distinctive change was found in their biological characteristics."

In response to accusations from WHO experts that China is reluctant to share information and samples of bird flu, the statement said: "China has always actively participated in the prevention and control of bird flu and has maintained good co-operative relations with international organizations, and shares with the international community all the latest developments in the bird flu situation and virus information in the country in a timely manner."

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