China reports H5N1 flu outbreak in domestic geese

Jun 8, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Hundreds of domestic geese have died and thousands have been culled in an outbreak of H5N1 influenza in northwestern China, a Chinese official told the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) today.

Some 460 domestic geese died in Tacheng city of Xinjiang autonomous region, wrote Jia Youling, the director general of the agriculture ministry"e;s veterinary bureau in Beijing, who filed the report. He reported that a total of 1,042 geese fell ill and 13,457 were destroyed.

The report marks the first known cases of H5N1 in poultry in China since July 2004, but it comes on the heels of an outbreak said to have killed more than 1,000 migratory birds of five different species. Those deaths occurred in another province, Qinghai, south and east of Tacheng.

The migratory bird outbreak prompted widespread poultry vaccination and other security measures. Last week Chinese authorities were expressing confidence that there had been no cases among domestic poultry. Diagnostic tests positive for H5N1 came back from the domestic geese yesterday, the Chinese report said.

Jia"e;s report said the source of infection in the new outbreak was under investigation, but under "mode of spread," it said, "Migratory birds take the virus to geese." The report also stated, "The index farm is a backyard farm."

Dead geese were found on an individual farm in Tacheng City, according to a report out of Hong Kong cited today by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"Mainland authorities also carried out vaccination immediately at all poultry farms in the nearby areas and the situation had now been brought under control," said a statement that AFP attributed to Hong Kong authorities.

Domestic geese have been a concern in the battle against H5N1 because of their ability to carry the virus without showing symptoms. Likewise, migratory waterfowl have generally been considered carriers of the virus.