China Reports 3 Suspected Bird Flu Cases in Humans
By STEPHANIE HOO Associated Press Writer
BEIJING Nov 7, 2005 — Stepping up its fight against bird flu, China said Monday it has killed 6 million birds around its latest outbreak of the virus and ordered the immediate closure of all 168 live poultry markets in Beijing.
Meanwhile, investigations were continuing into whether three people including a 12-year-old girl who died were the nation's first known human cases of the disease that has killed at least 62 people elsewhere in Asia since 2003.
In Liaoning province, east of Beijing, authorities have destroyed 6 million poultry in 15 villages near the site of an outbreak that killed 8,940 chickens, the Xinhua News Agency said.
The culling was unusually large by Chinese standards, but Xinhua said it was carried out because of rules requiring the destruction of all birds within two miles of an infection site.
Authorities closed all of Beijing's 168 live poultry markets as a precaution against the possible spread of the virus in the Chinese capital, state television reported.
China has had no confirmed human infections from the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu in its latest round of outbreaks. But it has imposed increasingly strict measures following warnings that a human case was inevitable if China can't stop outbreaks among its 5.2 billion chickens, ducks and other poultry.
Experts are especially worried about China because of the vast scale of its poultry industry and because it is a major migration route for wild birds, which scientists say might spread the virus.
In Vietnam, the EU's health commissioner conceded the European Union should have acted earlier to help Asian nations fight bird flu and pledged $35.7 million to help the region combat the virus.
"It's better late than never," Markos Kyprianou said during talks in Hanoi with Vietnamese Agriculture Minister Cao Duc PhatMarkos. "The EU is interested in cooperating with Asia to solve the problem."
The three possible Chinese bird flu victims lived in or near Wantang village in the central Hunan province where the government says 545 chickens and ducks died of bird flu last month.