November 12, 2005

China reports new bird flu outbreaks, and other countries report more cases

Bird flu continues to spread unchecked with new countries reporting cases every few days. While the risk of human to human spread remains very low unless there is a mutation, the chances of such an event are growing with every new outbreak of the disease amonst domestic birds.

China reported its seventh and eighth bird flu outbreaks in three weeks. Vietnam has ordered police and the military to help fight the disease. In Thailand, an 18-month-old boy became the 21st person to catch the H5N1 bird flu virus, but is recovering in a hospital. North Korea issued an alert restricting access to chicken farms, urging the public to help fight bird flu.

One of the new Chinese outbreaks was in Liaoning province in the north east. Premier Wen Jiabao visited Liaoning this week and warned that the disease was not under control. The outbreak killed 300 chickens in Beining village near the city of Jinzhou, the agriculture ministry said in a report on the website of the Paris-based International Organisation for Animal Health. 2.5 million birds were destroyed to contain the outbreak.

The other outbreak, in Hubei province's Jingshan County, has killed 2,500 poultry. Authorities haved destroyed more than 31,000 birds, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The case, which reportedly occurred on November 2. China has reported no human cases.