Bird flu outbreak confirmed in Xinjiang
China has confirmed an outbreak of bird flu in its northwestern Xinjiang region, saying 460 geese had died of the H5N1 strain of the virus but the situation was under control.
The outbreak occured at a farm in Tacheng city in the Xinjiang autonomous region.
More than 13,450 fowls have been slaughtered to prevent the disease from spreading while the local government has isolated and disinfected the area, it said.
"The outbreak had been brought under control and the source of agent was being investigated," Jia Youling, director general of the Veterinary Bureau of the ministry, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
In his report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), posted on its website, Jia said the geese were infected by migratory birds.
As well as the OIE, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and authorities in Hong Kong and Taiwan had been informed, Xinhua said.
The outbreak follows the deaths from H5N1 of more than 1,000 migratory birds last month in Qinghai province which borders Xinjiang, the first confirmed outbreak in China in nearly a year.
A Chinese veterinary official said then that the disease was spreading along a western China migratory bird route that stretched from South Asia to Central Asia and flew over the Himalayas through the Tibet and Qinghai regions.
Hong Kong immediately moved to suspend imports of poultry from Xinjiang Thursday, officials said.
Hong Kong has been quick to prevent further outbreaks of the H5N1 strain entering the territory since the variant first mutated into a form lethal to humans there in 1997, killing six people.
The H5N1 virus has been fingered as a possible new strain of flu that could be devastating to humans if it genetically mutates and develops the capacity to be transmitted from human-to-human.
The World Health Organization has warned that if this happens it could trigger a new human flu pandemic, potentially killing up to 50 million people worldwide.
So far, a total of 54 deaths have been recorded from H5N1 in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.