Poor surveillance led to human infections
Updated: 2006-01-11 05:44
The main reasons for human infections are a lack of effective bird flu
surveillance in villages and towns as well as delayed reporting of outbreaks,
according to the Ministry of Health.
Spokesman Mao Qun'an offered the explanation yesterday following the
ministry's announcement of China's eighth human case of H5N1 bird flu on Monday
A 6-year-old boy, surnamed Ouyang, in
Guiyang County of Central China's Hunan Province is reported to be in a critical
condition in hospital.
A vendor weighs
chickens for a customer at an outdoor chicken market in Nanjing, in
eastern China's Jiangsu province in December 2005.
Experts have found ill chickens in the area where the boy lives, but have yet
to test whether they are infected with H5N1.
Most of the human cases on the Chinese mainland were first reported in big
hospitals before investigations were conducted in the patients' villages to find
the source, Mao said.
The probes have usually led to the discovery of poultry epidemics where they
lived but which were not reported, he said.
At village clinics or township hospitals, the human infections were typically
diagnosed as pneumonia from unknown causes because doctors there are not
qualified to detect bird flu infections.
As a result, the best window of opportunity for treatment was missed, leading
to the three fatalities in China, he said.
The monitoring and reporting system of infectious diseases now covers 66 per
cent of China's township hospitals, and more than 90 per cent of hospitals at
county levels or above.
More village doctors will be encouraged, and financially supported, to join
the system, Mao said, adding that all hospitals have been asked to scrutinize
pneumonia cases without clear causes.
Mao said that controlling the virus would be one of the health ministry's top
priorities in 2006.
"What we're doing is to seek to strengthen supervision in the health system,
to detect infectious diseases and monitor epidemics as early as possible," he
"In the new year we'll especially emphasize the effort to prevent and control
bird flu among humans."