China battles new avian flu outbreak

By Leah Germain

- Last updated on GMT

China battles new avian flu outbreak

Related tags Hong kong Influenza a virus subtype h5n1 Influenza Avian influenza Livestock Poultry

The Chinese government is fighting a fresh major outbreak of avian influenza virus H5N1 in southern China, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). It says the outbreak was first reported on 11 September at a duck farm in the city of Zhanjiang, in Guangdong province.

According to OIE, 73,800 birds were susceptible to the outbreak, with 14,050 confirmed cases resulting in the death of 6,300 birds. The remaining birds were culled to curb the spread of the disease, with action coordinated by the China Animal Disease Control Centre, which commented “the event is continuing”​.

Meanwhile, there is better news in Hong Kong, where the OIE has been told by Dr Thomas Sit, the chief veterinary officer at the special administrative territory, that an outbreak of H5N1 that broke out last December (2011) had been “resolved”​, with no new cases since June. While the source of the outbreak is unknown, the territory’s government will continue to monitor the situation by installing intensive surveillance systems at all poultry farms, poultry markets and pet bird shops in Hong Kong.

There were 18 cases, leading to the death of thousands of birds: in one case, 19,451 poultry, including 15,569 chickens, 810 pigeons, 1,950 pheasants and 1,122 silky fowls were culled from a wholesale poultry market in December 2011.

The outbreaks have had human casualties. According to the Hong Kong department of health, a two-year-old boy in Guangzhou City, Guangdong province on the mainland developed symptoms of H5N1 after visiting a wet market with live poultry being slaughtered in mid-May. He was transferred to Hong Kong for health treatment.

In Vietnam, the country’s veterinary officials reported a similar contamination just one day before information of China’s outbreak was released. According to a second OIE report, poultry in Vietnam’s Hoa Binh province, a mountainous area located in the north-western part of the country, was infected with H5N1. The case, first recorded on 3 September, killed 400 birds.

The Vietnam government has applied similar measures to the Chinese government in order to prevent the spread of the disease, including screening, zoning and vaccination, but cases have continued regularly since 2006.

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