02/26/2008, 00.00

Bird flu spreading in South and East Asia

More deaths are reported in China and Vietnam; many cases of infection in poultry are recorded in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The virus is spreading in poor areas where poultry is essential to the domestic economy.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The bird flu has killed more people in China and Vietnam as the virus rapidly spreads across South and East Asia.

In China tests show that Zhang Zhongqin, a migrant worker who died in Haifeng County (Guangdong), was infected with the deadly virus. She raised chicken and fell ill on 16 February after eating meat from a chicken that had died. She is the third official death recorded this year in the mainland.

Despite the death it is still business as usual in local poultry markets and the authorities have not taken any special measures.

They did however confirm another outbreak in poultry in Guizhou, which comes in the wake of a deadly outbreak ten days ago in Zhengan County, where more than 238,000 fowl were culled.

Since December China has reported four outbreaks of the disease in fowl.

In Vietnam a young teacher died yesterday in Phu Tho province.

“We still report bird flu outbreaks among poultry,” said Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Preventive Medicine Department in Vietnam’s Ministry of Health. “The risk of bird flu infection among people remains very high and we expect more human cases,” he added.

In Pakistan the government reported a new outbreak in fowl in Karachi, the fourth case in a month.

Pakistan also confirmed its first human death from the virus near the north-western town of Abbottabad in December.

In Bangladesh mass culling has not stopped the spread of the virus. The latest area to be hit is the district of Munshiganj.

At present the avian flu affects 44 of the country’s 64 districts.

The poultry sector, which generates more than US$ 1.8 billion annually, has suffered so far US$ 650 million in losses.

In all these countries poultry is an essential component in the domestic economy. But governments have a hard time containing outbreaks, partly because people are not easily persuaded to work with the authorities.

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See also
New, asymptomatic bird flu cases
Hanoi hosts international conference on avian flue
Avian flu strikes fourth victim
Avian flu claimed its 9th victim in Thailand
Avian flu: China might not be reporting every outbreak