Slaughter calms bird flu fears
( 2004-01-29 10:38) (eastday.com)
China announced Wednesday it had slaughtered nearly 60,000 chickens in a campaign against bird flu, trying to assure the public the disease was under control a day after the country's first cases were confirmed in ducks.
People who had contact with the infected birds in the southern town of Dingdang in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were isolated and placed "under close watch," said an official of the agriculture bureau in Nanning, the regional capital.
"Those people ... have access to medical care if they need," said the official, who would give only his family name, Lu.
He said he didn't know how many people were affected or other details.
Authorities have slaughtered some 14,000 birds found within three kilometers of the farm, the local government said. Poultry from farms within five kilometers was quarantined.
China central Television showed footage of workers in Dingdang in head-to-toe protective gear burning sacks full of dead chickens.
Huang shengde, the farm's owner, is under around-clock medical monitoring.
At the road crossing in Dingdang, policemen are on duty for possible emergency. But life is getting on normally as trucks full of sugar cane are rushing between sugar farms and a refinery mill. It's now harvest time for sugar cane, a major farm product in the county.
"We have been told to hand in all the poultry we fed at home in the past two days. We have already done it," said Lu Chaoqian, a resident in the town. Lu said that government officials have also sent disinfection teams door to door and asked people not to cultivate poultry for the next 30 years.
In the central province of Hunan, where a "suspected case" of bird flu was reported, 44,000 chickens were slaughtered, CCTV said in its noon newscast. Areas near the suspicious cases were isolated.
Poultry and their meat and eggs from Wugang city, where suspected cases were reported, are currently suffering a shipping ban.
All poultry meat and eggs cannot enter the market in the province before their sources are clarified and quarantine measures are taken.
Hubei province, north of Hunan, also has suspected cases and authorities have issued 7 million doses of vaccine against bird flu, CCTV said.
Over 70,000 chickens were slaughtered near Zhanglingshang village in Shifo township, where the suspected cases were reported.
An official from the Hubei Health Bureau's disease prevention department was confident that the area could withstand an epidemic even though "its infectiousness is greater and its range of infection is wider" than SARS.
"We've known about this kind of disease for a long time," said the official, who refused to give his name.
"Past experience has given us the capability of handling it, even if there is an outbreak."
So far, no person-to-person transmission has been reported, though health officials fear the virus might mix with a human flu strain, creating a form that could trigger a human flu pandemic.
They also said while the disease has reached China, the world's most populous nation, it was not time to panic.
"China is a big country, (but) we have to not forget, we are talking about one duck farm," Dr Klaus Stohr, project leader for influenza surveillance and scientific groups at the World Health Organization, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"We have only suspected cases in other regions," Stohr said. "We have to wait until the diagnosis has been made."
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