OIE: No proof to say bird flu originated in China
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) official said on Tuesday that recent media reports alleging that bird flu, now plaguing some Asian countries, originated in China lack evidence and are therefore irresponsible.
"No conclusion can yet be made based on the information we have now," he said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency, adding that a great amount of information is needed to survey the origin of bird flu and this is supposed to be a slow and complicated process.
Vallat termed recent media reports that the bird flu originated in China as not serious. As for their argument that the bird flu virus in some countries is similar to that found in China, he said: "That is not adequate evidence, as we cannot exclude the possibility that animals with the bird flu virus from a country get into a third country via China. And there are many other possibilities. We cannot rush into conclusions."
"It is definitely impossible now to conclude where the bird flu came from. If there's any conclusion now, it would not be serious at all," Vallat said. "It is ungrounded to say that the bird flu virus originated in China."
It is irresponsible to draw that conclusion without evidence, Vallat added.
The OIE has been at the forefront of fighting the bird flu, together with the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. The Paris-based animal health body receives reports on the epidemic from many countries and regions on a daily basis.
"China can play a very active role in fighting the bird flu," the OIE chief said.
The Chinese government's firm attitude and China's national strength can serve to ensure that China may become the first country to defeat the epidemic, he said.
No country can stay aloof in the face of acute animal epidemics and one of the lessons drawn from the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease and the mad cow disease is that it is necessary to build an effective animal epidemics monitoring system, Vallat said.
Vallat has been shuttling among Asian and European countries to discuss bird flu issues with counterparts in these countries. He said it is not the time to blame any country for the bird flu outbreak, it's time for concerted cooperation in the battle against the virus.