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China Announces New Fatal Human Case Of Bird Flu

Beijing (AFP) Nov 23, 2005
A woman farmer in east China has died from bird flu after contact with sick poultry, becoming the third confirmed human case in the country, state media reported Wednesday.

The 35-year-old woman surnamed Xu from Xiuning county in Anhui province developed fever and pneumonia-like symptoms on November 11 after contact with sick and dead poultry, it said, adding that the ministry of health had confirmed the case.

She died on Tuesday, becoming the country's third confirmed case of bird flu and second confirmed fatality.

Tests showed she was H5N1 positive, the agency said quoting China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health ministry has reported the new confirmed case to the World Health Organisation, Xinhua said.

China's first confirmed human fatality also came from Anhui province, which has been struck by outbreaks of bird flu among poultry in the past month.

Last week China's health ministry announced its first human cases of avian flu, saying the H5N1 virus had killed Zhou Maoya, a 24-year-old pregnant women from Yantan village in Anhui. She died on November 10.

A nine-year-old boy in central China's Hunan province was the other confirmed case but he recovered and was discharged from hospital.

The ministry said the disease had also likely claimed the life of his 12-year-old sister, who died on October 17 after suffering similar symptoms to those of her brother.

Meanwhile, a new outbreak of deadly bird flu has been detected in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, bringing the total number of confirmed outbreaks in China to 25 this year.

On November 15, 2,064 birds were found dead in Niuzhuangzi village in Miquan city in the Muslim-majority region and the disease was confirmed Wednesday as the H5N1 strain, the agriculture ministry said on its website.

Xinjiang's veterinary department has ordered the culling of all poultry within a radius of three kilometers (1.9 miles) of the outbreak, with 84,000 fowls destroyed in the area, the website said.

China reported three bird flu outbreaks Tuesday, with one also in Xinjiang and another two in Yunnan province in the southwest and Ningxia region in the northwest.

The government said on Monday the bird flu crisis was "severe" and set to get worse as winter deepens.

"Although some cases in affected areas have been controlled effectively, the whole situation of avian flu control is still severe," Vice Agriculture Minister Yin Chengjie told reporters.

"The task ahead of us is still arduous."

He warned the danger was expected to grow as temperatures dropped, making it easier for viruses to stay alive.

"The colder the weather is, the higher the risk of epidemics breaking out," Yin said.

China has announced an ambitious plan to vaccinate the nation's entire poultry stock against bird flu but experts have said it would be almost impossible to complete and could even backfire.

The program requires the vaccination of the current stock of 5.2 billion poultry -- the biggest in the world -- plus all the birds that are raised in the future, making for an annual 14 billion birds.

The government announced the blanket vaccination program on November 15 and said that, at the beginning of this week, 60 percent of the current livestock had already been immunised.

However independent experts question that even if that figure is correct, many significant hurdles have to be overcome if the 100 percent target is to be achieved.

"The problem is it takes so many people to do it," said Leon Russell, president of the World Veterinary Association. "I think it would be very difficult."

Veterinarian experts say there is simply no easy way to vaccinate billions of birds from the H5N1 virus.

Bird flu has killed more than 60 people in Southeast Asia since 2003.

Experts fear a pandemic that could kill millions of people across the globe if H5N1 acquires genetic material from a human influenza virus and becomes easily transmittable from human to human.

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Poultry Flu Vaccines Need Independent Control: FAO
Rome (AFP) Nov 23, 2005
Vaccines to protect poultry against bird flu must be subjected to quality controls by independent laboratories, especially in China, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Wednesday.

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