From: Reuters
Published January 8, 2008 12:29 PM

China says latest bird flu outbreak under control

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's latest outbreak in poultry of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, in the far western region of Xinjiang, has been brought under control, state media reported.

Authorities in Turpan city culled more than 35,000 birds and no human cases had been reported, the official Xinhua news agency said in a late night report seen on Tuesday.

The first bird flu outbreak in the country since September came about a month after the virus killed a 24-year-old man in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Xinhua cited an unnamed official as blaming a warmer winter for bringing in more migratory birds to the area near Turpan, and so "increasing the chances of bird flu outbreaks."

"The wild birds ought to have flown south, but stayed near the city because of the warm weather this winter," it quoted the official as saying. "This has added to infection risks and made the control of the disease more difficult."

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With the world's biggest poultry population and hundreds of millions of farmers raising birds in their backyards, China is seen as crucial in the global fight against bird flu.

The Agriculture Ministry has warned of a "very high" possibility of bird flu outbreaks in the country over the winter and spring, when the virus is at its most contagious.

A man surnamed Lu died of the H5N1 strain in Jiangsu -- where no poultry outbreak had been reported at the time -- on December 2, raising Chinese human fatalities from the virus to 17 and infections to 27.

Lu's 52-year-old father was also infected and only recovered after three weeks of treatment.

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