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2022-8-19 7:31:19

Bird flu threat diminishes in Qinghai
submited by wanglh at May, 31, 2006 9:40 AM from China Daily

Domestic poultry flocks are likely to escape the menace of bird flu, despite the deadly strain claiming the lives of 604 wild birds in Qinghai Province.

Local officials in the far-western province yesterday said the odds of domestic poultry being infected was extremely low.

However bird flu is likely to hit poultry elsewhere in China late this year, even though no new outbreaks have been reported for three straight months, warned the country´s Chief Veterinary Officer Jia Youling.

"We´ve been keeping our eyes on migratory birds, while vaccinating all of our domestic poultry population," Zhao Niannong, deputy chief of the Qinghai Provincial Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, told China Daily yesterday.

The province, known as a stopping point for migrating birds, confirmed this year´s first death from the H5N1 strain of bird flu a bar-headed goose in Gangcha County on April 29.

No new deaths have been reported in the area, which is to the northwest of the Qinghai Lake, the largest saltwater lake in China and a tourist attraction, Zhao said.

He said two other outbreaks of H5N1 in the province´s Yushu County and the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which were confirmed on May 3 and May 24 respectively, were hundreds of kilometres from the lake.

He added that the numbers of tourists visiting the lake had not been affected, even though bird-monitoring posts have been set up in the area.

The number of dead wild birds, largely bar-headed geese, has not risen markedly in recent weeks, said Zhao.

By yesterday inspection teams had found 339 dead birds in Yushu and 264 in the Golog prefecture.

Including the Gangcha goose the total number of dead migratory birds has reached 604, compared with at least 6,300 in Qinghai last year.

"There are only 150 herding families living in Yushu and three families in the Golog epidemic areas, where virtually no poultry are raised," said Zhao.

Vets have disinfected the regions where the dead birds were found and warned local herdsmen to keep clear of dead birds to prevent the virus spreading to humans.

Zhao said he believed the number of dead wild birds will not rise "dramatically" at any time this year.

The official is also upbeat about the prospect of bird flu control among domestic poultry in the province.

"Qinghai has a poultry population of only 2.15 million," said Zhao. "We have enough vaccination shots for each and every domestic fowl."

He added that stronger ultraviolet radiation in the sunshine on the plateau province also helps kill viruses in the secretions of wild birds.

Jia said the shrinking number of wild birds dying from bird flu raised the possibility that some birds are now able to survive the virus.

But when they migrate to other parts of the country and come into contact with resident birds and domestic poultry, they may spread the virus, warned Jia.

"Sporadic outbreaks of bird flu are still possible in the months ahead," he said. "But by no means will we see bird flu outbreaks on a scale as large as last year."

Yesterday, 300 scientists from more than 100 countries and regions attended a conference in Rome to discuss bird flu issues including the role played by wild birds in spreading the virus.

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