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China halts pork exports from 2 cities
(Bloomberg/China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-26 06:08

Virus Concerns

Chinese authorities also are stepping up surveillance of registered export pig farms, the health ministry statement said. The Chinese government earlier balked at speculation that the latest deaths in the southwest were caused by bird flu or SARS.

The World Health Organization has been on alert over bird flu since late 2003. The illness has killed more than 50 people in Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Thailand. China has been trying to contain an outbreak of avian flu in the west.

The Chinese government said it has reported the pig-related infections to the World Health Organization, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, and the health authorities of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. Residents in Sichuan province have been urged not to slaughter or process sick pigs to prevent the spread of the disease, the Beijing-based ministry said in a statement on its Web site Monday.

Pork Epidemics

Those infected came from 75 villages in 40 townships, the Chinese statement said.

The last major pig-related epidemic occurred in Malaysia, where 265 people were infected with the Nipah virus from 1998 to 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 105 people died and almost a million pigs were slaughtered. The virus is capable of infecting different animals and is lethal to about 50 percent of human patients, causing encephalitis.

In Hong Kong, authorities sought to assure the public the pig disease in China didn't pose a threat to the city. Two supermarket chains in Hong Kong have stopped the sale of frozen pork from Sichuan.
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