Bird-flu epidemic situation stable in China: agricultural ministry

While there is a risk of further outbreaks of bird flu in some areas of China, overall the situation is stable, sources with the Ministry of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The sources declined to name specific areas in the country that are at risk of bird flu outbreaks.

The sources said the poultry vaccination campaign, which started in early March, is proceeding smoothly and is due to be completed in early May.

Monitoring has been intensified at border areas and outbreaks outside China have been closely followed, the sources added.

According to statistics by the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2004, 50 cases of HPAI bird flu were reported in 16 provinces of China. In 2005, there were 32 cases in 13 provinces, including one case in migratory birds in Qinghai. In 2006, 10 cases were recorded in seven provinces, including cases of migratory birds in Qinghai and Tibet.

Last year, approximately 90,000 fowl were contaminated and 47,000 died of the disease nationwide. In Tibet and Qinghai, 3,641 migratory birds died from the disease.

The Ministry of Health said over the past two years, China has recorded 20 cases of human infections of bird flu, seven in 2005 and 13 in 2006.

A batch of chickens which suddenly died in a market on March 1, 2007 in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, were confirmed to have contracted the H5 virus of bird flu, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. No human cases of bird flu have so far been reported in the region.

The Ministry of Health had confirmed a 16-year-old boy died from bird flu on March 27 this year in east China´s Anhui Province, bringing the number of people who have been killed by the virus to 15 in the country.

Source: Xinhua