Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) — China said it culled more than 13,000 poultry after discovering the H5N1 strain of avian flu on a farm in Xinjiang province, five days after saying none of the human cases this year were linked to outbreaks among birds.
The outbreak in the northwestern province, which began at the start of this month, is the country’s first since December, China’s Chief Veterinary Officer Yu Kangzhen said in a Feb. 10 report (PDF) to the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris. It said 1,330 farmed birds were infected with avian flu and 519 died.
Authorities have vaccinated 350,000 birds in Xinjiang in an effort to stop the virus spreading, Yu said in the report. China’s Ministry of Agriculture said the outbreak had been controlled, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
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A 31-year-old woman died in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi on Jan. 23 after contracting the H5N1 virus, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Jan. 24, citing the regional health department.
The Ministry of Agriculture said there had been no avian flu outbreaks among poultry in the provinces where human infections were reported, the official China Daily reported on Feb. 6.
Eight people have been infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu in China this year and five have died, Nyka Alexander, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News today.
International health officials have been monitoring H5N1 for more than a decade for signs it could mutate into a form that is easily spread between humans. A flu pandemic of avian or other origin could kill 71 million people worldwide and lead to a “major global recession” costing more than $3 trillion, according to a worst-case scenario outlined by the World Bank in October.
H5N1 has infected at least 406 people in 15 countries since 2003, killing 63 percent of them, according to the Web site of the Geneva-based WHO. Of 38 confirmed cases in China so far, 25 have been fatal.
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Last Updated: February 10, 2009 23:43 EST
By Simeon Bennett