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Bird flu virus found in poultry markets

By  Shan Juan  (China Daily)

08:28, November 17, 2011

BEIJING - The bird flu virus, also known as H5N1, seems to exist widely in the poultry markets, particularly in South China, posing a tough challenge for the nation's epidemic intervention work, senior experts warned.

Worse, a mutant strain of the virus called H5N1-2.3.2.1 was found spreading among live poultry, which the vaccine now in use cannot fully protect against, Guo Fusheng, technical adviser in animal health of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation, told China Daily on Tuesday, citing information and statistics from China's Ministry of Agriculture.

"With the arrival of autumn and winter, the country is facing an escalating risk of bird flu outbreaks among poultry as well as that of humans getting infected," he warned.

Yu Kangzhen, the national chief veterinary officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, said previously that it would be hard to avert regional bird flu cases during autumn and winter but "the chance of large-scale outbreaks is quite slim".

In late August, FAO warned of a possible resurgence of bird flu outbreaks around the world. According to the organization, since the virus was first detected in 2003, it has infected at least 560 people worldwide, killing 331 of them.

Sun Yan, an official of the Bureau of Veterinary under the Ministry of Agriculture, conceded that China is at even greater risk of avian influenza, given that it produced 25 percent chicken, 87 percent goose and 65 percent duck of the world's total yield.

In China, some 50 cases of bird flu involving poultry have been detected on the mainland since 2004, with 31 of these in 2005 alone, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

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