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China on alert for bird flu as seasons change

China faces a tough challenge if it wants to curb a regional outbreak of bird flu in the coming autumn and winter, the nation's top veterinarian Yu Kangzhen stated. However, the chance for a large-scale outbreak remains quite slim.

Yu made the remarks following a warning from the United Nations of a possible return of the deadly avian influenza epidemic, as a mutation of the H5N1 strain that can apparently sidestep defenses of existing vaccines was spreading in China and Vietnam.

The virus has been detected sporadically among wild birds and in certain areas among farmed poultry, he admitted, with mutations of the virus also being detected in poultry.

In response, the Ministry of Agriculture has ordered further heightened surveillance of the virus and made plans in the event of outbreaks. Since 2004, China has seen 50 cases of bird flu involving poultry on the mainland, with 31 in 2005 alone, official statistics show. 

As part of surveillance and a comprehensive defence mechanism nearly 2.5 million samples have been tested for the virus this year and a mass vaccination against the virus will soon begin on poultry farms nationwide. 

Source: China Daily

Editor WorldPoultry

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