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New bird flu case reported in Liaoning
Updated: 2005-11-11 11:48

China has reported the fourth bird flu outbreak in a northeastern province in the past two weeks amid fears that counterfeit flu vaccines being sold there might be worsening the public health threat.

The report on Friday brought the total number of outbreaks reported by China in the latest round of cases to seven.

The outbreak Sunday killed 300 chickens in Beining, a village near Jinzhou, a city in Liaoning province, the Agriculture Ministry said in a report on the Web site of the Paris-based International Organization for Animal Health. It said officials destroyed 2.5 million birds to contain the virus.

Liaoning has reported three other outbreaks since Nov. 3 -- two on farms near Jinzhou and the other near the city of Fuxin.

China earlier warned that counterfeit vaccines were being sold in Liaoning, raising the possibility that millions of chickens, ducks and other birds weren't properly inoculated.

"Quite clearly, there's a major problem in Liaoning, and it seems from what the Chinese are saying this has to do with using shoddy, inferior or maybe fake vaccines for poultry," a World Health Organization spokesman, Peter Cordingley, in comments broadcast Thursday by Hong Kong's Cable TV.

"And what we have now, almost certainly, we think, is sick chickens who are showing no symptoms, and that is very, very bad. They are silent carriers of the virus," he said.

China hasn't reported any human infections in this round of outbreaks, but experts say one is inevitable with so many cases in poultry.

Chinese authorities quarantined 116 people after outbreaks Sunday in Jinzhou and Fuxin killed 1,100 chickens, the Agriculture Ministry said Thursday.

The first case in Jinzhou on Oct. 26 prompted officials to destroy more than 6 million birds.

On Thursday, state television showed government workers in white protective suits and masks spraying disinfectant on chicken coops and farm buildings.

One man was shown pouring a bag of chalky, white disinfect on the ground where dead chickens were buried. Others sprayed disinfectant on car tires and roads.

China has also reported outbreaks in poultry in the Inner Mongolia region in the north, and in the provinces of Anhui in the east and Hunan in central China.

H5N1 first appeared in Hong Kong in 1997 but was curbed when authorities destroyed all poultry in the territory. It re-emerged in December 2003, and has recently spread from Asia to Europe.

Meanwhile, WHO is sending experts to Hunan to help investigate whether bird flu caused a 12-year-old girl's death and two illnesses in an area hit by an outbreak in poultry last month, said Roy Wadia, a spokesman in Beijing for the agency.

Chinese officials earlier said those three people tested negative for the virus.

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