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China warns of fresh bird flu outbreaks
Updated: 2006-02-21 14:41

China has warned of fresh outbreaks of bird flu this spring and has banned imports of pet and wild birds from 10 countries recently hit by the disease, state media said on Tuesday.

China has reported more than 30 outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in both poultry and wild birds in a dozen provinces in the past year, along with 12 human cases in recent months, eight of whom have died.

"There is still the possibility of bird flu epidemics across a large area (of the country) this spring," Agriculture Minister Du Qinglin was quoted by the China Youth Daily as telling a conference.

Du cited increased movement of migratory birds after the winter and more shipping of poultry as the new raising season begins, the newspaper said, adding most parts of China's north were under serious threat.

"The protection given inoculated birds last autumn is waning and vaccination work for family-raised poultry in remote rural areas is difficult," Du said.
"The situation is still very grave."

China's top quarantine office issued an urgent notice on Monday to ban the import of pet birds, wild birds and their products from 10 countries that have reported outbreaks in recent weeks, including Germany, France, Italy, Egypt and Kuwait.

Poultry and poultry products from the countries could only clear Customs after tests, the China Youth Daily said, adding officials would also screen people from the same countries for fever symptoms.

The H5N1 strain, which has killed 92 people globally, had been largely confined to Asia before spreading recently to birds in Middle East, Europe and Africa, a continent experts fear would be the flashpoint for disastrous outbreaks in humans.

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