- (Reuters) -- Authorities have culled
about 8000 chickens in a poultry farm in China's eastern Shandong province
after 400 chickens died there last week, a Hong Kong newspaper reported
on Tuesday [18 Apr 2006].
- The South China Morning Post said the
farmer, identified only by his surname Chen, was ordered by officials not
to talk about the cull as "it was a state secret". He and his
wife were given injections on Sunday, but they did not know what they were
- Over 400 chickens died at Chen's farm
in Laixi city last week.
- The farmer reported the deaths on Saturday
to the city's animal husbandry bureau, which sent staff to collect samples
of the dead chickens on the same day.
- But Chen said he was not told of any
test results before about 30 workers dressed in protective garments moved
in to kill and bury the remainder of his chickens on Sunday.
- The newspaper cited a Shandong Bird Flu
Control Office official as denying there was an outbreak of bird flu, saying
authorities were still determining the cause of the deaths.
- The chicken deaths come as a deadly strain
of the H5N1 avian flu virus is spreading quickly around the world, with
more than 30 countries reporting outbreaks of the disease. It has spread
across Asia, into parts of the Middle East, Africa and Europe since 2003.
- Although only 194 people are known to
have been infected so far and 109 of them have died, scientists fear the
virus could mutate into a form that jumps easily between people and trigger
a global flu pandemic.
- ProMed Mail
- In view of the fact that China was the
first H5N1-infected country, while taking into consideration its size and
its huge poultry industry, China's reported figures seem strikingly low.
According to the FAO, China, with about 12 billion chickens and 3 billion
domestic waterfowl (ducks and geese), has the world's largest poultry population,
with 20 percent of the global total.
- Details on the above reported suspected
outbreak, particularly lab tests results, will -- hopefully -- become available
soon. - Mod.AS