Giant pandas get extra precautions from swine flu

08:14, November 25, 2009      

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Chinese press has reported that a government-run panda research center in northwestern China has been closed to visitors as a precaution to protect the endangered species from catching the contagious swine flu.

It is not known if pandas can catch swine flu, but there have been reports from veterinary and federal officials in the United States of cats and other animals catching the perilous disease.

Cold temperatures and heavy snowfall last week at the Shaanxi Wild Animal Rescue and Research Center in Shaanxi Province have increased flu symptoms and the number of H1N1 cases among zoo employees there.

The center has stopped recruiting new volunteers and banned employees with flu symptoms from approaching the giant pandas. And, staffs at the center are taking extra precaution measures to protect the animals.

The northwestern center, one of four giant panda reserves in China, is home to 21 giant pandas.

China is moving aggressively to vaccinate vulnerable groups, such as school students, with the start of winter and the flu season. The country has reported up to 70,000 illnesses with 53 deaths from swine flu.

People's Daily online-Agencies
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