11/15/2005, 00.00
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Avian flu: China might not be reporting every outbreak

Local media sources suggest that not all the information—including reports about human casualties—is being released. Meanwhile, health authorities announce another outbreak in Anhui province and the discovery of a new vaccine. In Indonesia, teams will check every backyard.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Fresh new bird flu outbreaks have been found in China, but according to Honk Kong media sources, there is concern that the government might not be reporting all cases. At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is undertaking a new mission in China, whilst Indonesia plans to check every poultry farm.

China. State-run TV confirmed yesterday a new outbreak in Fanyu village, Tianjiaan district, Huainan (Anhui province). On November 6, 800 poultry died. More than 126,000 birds were culled within a 3 km radius of the Fanyu site.

A six-member WHO team started its mission in China. It will meet with provincial officials and possibly visit the two patients who became ill in Wantang village.

Health authorities have identified nine outbreaks since October 19, but according to some source the number is higher.

In the city of Furong more than 100,000 birds are said to have been culled; several human deaths are also said to have occurred in the last ten days within a five km radius. Local markets have been closed and access denied to vehicles.

In the village of Jizhong, in Wuhuangchi Township, dozens of chickens and ducks died. In neighbouring Mogutu village farmers say that more than 10,000 chickens have been culled.

In Fuxin, a city in Wangfu County, 8,000 chickens might have been culled.

The government has started compensating farmers for their losses. In Chaoyangsi village, all farmers were paid 10 yuan for a chicken, 12 yuan for a duck and 15 yuan for a goose, but complain that the money is too little.

In Liaoning the annual revenue per farmer is around 3,800 yuan (US$ 469) and the government has allocated 9.6 million yuan for the 12 million chickens that were culled.

However, where outbreaks have not been officially reported there are fears that compensation will not be forthcoming.

Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, said China had developed an antiviral drug to treat the bird flu in humans.

Taiwan. Taipei confirmed yesterday that another strain of bird flu, H7N3, had been found in wild bird droppings. Although less virulent than the H5N1 strain, it could also infect humans.

Vietnam. Bird sanctuaries such as the Tram Chim National Park and the Gao Giong ecological tourist zone have been ordered off-limits to tourists. These wetland areas are home to hundreds of thousands of wild birds and highly prized by tourists. In the port city of Haiphong, all chickens and ducks have been culled.

Indonesia. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a national anti-bird flu campaign involving teams of volunteers, soldiers and students fanning out to test backyard chickens for bird flu.

Governors, district chiefs and mayors from across the vast archipelago are to meet in Jakarta tomorrow for further talks on the campaign.

The H5N1 virus has been found in 23 out of 33 provinces but the authorities want to avoid mass culling.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has sent an emergency team to the country that will spearhead the testing of backyard chickens for bird flu across the main island of Java.

The European Union has also offered assistance but must still work out how with local authorities.

Russia. Russia's Agriculture Ministry reported that the viral outbreak is still affecting seven villages, six in the Asian part of the country (in the Altai region, Celiabinsk and Kurgan) and one in the Tambov region, south of Moscow. So far only small, family-run farms in eight regions have been affected, not large-scale poultry farms. (PB)

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