Bird Flu Breaks out in Poultry in China

CHINA - The authorities have culled 13,000 birds in Xinjiang province as the result of the first outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avain influenza (HPAI) in the country this year.
calendar icon 11 February 2009
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China said it culled more than 13,000 poultry after discovering the H5N1 strain of avian flu on a farm in Xinjiang province, five days after saying none of the human cases this year were linked to outbreaks among birds, reports Bloomberg.

The outbreak in the northwestern province, which began at the start of this month, is the country's first since December, China's Chief Veterinary Officer, Yu Kangzhen, said in a report on 10 February to the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris. It said 1,330 farmed birds were infected with avian flu and 519 died.

Authorities have vaccinated 350,000 birds in Xinjiang in an effort to stop the virus spreading, Mr Yu said in the report. China's Ministry of Agriculture said the outbreak had been controlled, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

A 31-year-old woman died in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi on 23 January after contracting the H5N1 virus, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Jan. 24, citing the regional health department.

The Ministry of Agriculture said there had been no avian flu outbreaks among poultry in the provinces where human infections were reported, the official China Daily reported on 6 Febuary.

Eight people have been infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu in China this year and five have died, Nyka Alexander, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, told Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg report continues that international health officials have been monitoring H5N1 for more than a decade for signs it could mutate into a form that is easily spread between humans. A flu pandemic of avian or other origin could kill 71 million people worldwide and lead to a 'major global recession' costing more than $3 trillion, according to a worst-case scenario outlined by the World Bank in October.

H5N1 has infected at least 406 people in 15 countries since 2003, killing 63 percent of them, according to the Web site of the Geneva-based WHO. Of 38 confirmed cases in China so far, 25 have been fatal.

OIE Notified

The Chinese authorities sent an Immediate Notification to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) about the new outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The report, dated 10 February, described a single outbreak of HPAI at Moyu in He'tian, Xinjiang province. It started on 1 February on a farm with a flock of 13,737 birds, 1,330 of which were affected and 519 died. The remaining birds were destroyed. The presence of the H5N1 virus sub-type was confirmed.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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