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Govt guards against epidemics
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A chicken and a duck rest in the woods after the earthquake in Dujiangyan.

The government is focusing on sanitation and disinfection in the disaster zones to guard against major epidemic outbreaks following the earthquake, Vice-Minister of Agriculture Wei Chao'an said yesterday.

No outbreaks of major epidemics or public health emergencies have been reported in the affected areas, he said at a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council on relief and rescue operations.

"We will strengthen the disinfection of dead poultry and livestock, enhance general disinfection and surveillance of possible epidemics, and vaccinate the people to guard against major animal epidemics or epidemics that affect both humans and animals," said Wei. "We will also enhance awareness about epidemic prevention."

A major challenge in the aftermath of the quake is the prevention of epidemics, say experts.

The Ministry of Agriculture has sent out several teams, each consisting of more than 300 experts headed by a chief vet, to the disaster zones to help with disease control. A total of 800 million tons of disinfectants have been moved to these areas.

"Vermin and virus including schistosome and the avian flu are major concerns and the disinfectants we have sent are especially designed for their prevention," said Li Jinxiang, dean of the veterinary bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture.

As more than 12 million poultry and livestock have died in the quake, their sterilization and safe burial is of utmost importance, said Li.

Li added that health and agriculture ministries are working closely in sharing information and resources in relief and disease prevention operations.

People in the affected regions will be vaccinated against infectious diseases, said Li.

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