China culls 20,000 chickens to contain bird flu

China culled more than 20,000 chickens in central Anhui province to isolate a new outbreak of bird flu, a local official said on Thursday, as the government said the deadly disease had been contained.

The strain of bird flu that killed 24 people in Southeast Asia early this year has erupted in Thailand and China, but both countries said on Wednesday the outbreaks were under control.

China said the virus had struck a farm in Chaohu, about 180 miles west of Shanghai, where chickens had died of the virulent H5N1 strain four months after the country declared the disease had been stamped out.

“More than 20,000 chickens were slaughtered and more than 100,000 chickens were vaccinated near the farm,” an Anhui agricultural bureau official told Reuters on Thursday.

He declined to say how many birds died from the disease, first reported on July 3.

“Local farmers whose poultry were culled will get compensation from the government this afternoon,” he added.

China blamed the outbreak on migratory birds, which were thought to have spread the disease through Asia early this year as they headed south to warmer places during the winter.

The H5N1 strain first emerged in 1997 in Hong Kong.

“There are no signs of bird flu spreading and the public need not panic,” the Xinhua news agency quoted Yu Kangzhen, deputy head of the national veterinary headquarters under the Ministry of Agriculture, as saying.

In the area of the latest outbreak, the fowl trade and private slaughtering were forbidden in all markets within a 6-mile radius of the affected area, Xinhua said.

The Foreign Ministry said there was no need for alarm from outsiders.

“China’s relevant departments have taken strong and powerful measures,” spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.

“Under this condition, especially with the relevant experiences China has accumulated in this sector, I think other countries should not worry about it.”

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD