Following is a brief introduction to bird flu by Jia Youling, chief expert on farming of the Ministry of Agriculture.
What is bird flu?
Jia: Bird flu is an infectious disease caused by a form of influenza virus. The disease is mainly found in fowl such as chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons.
How is the disease confirmed?
Jia: The process of confirmation will usually follow four steps. First, experts diagnose dead birds on site and through epidemiological methods make an initial judgment if the death is caused by suspected strain of bird flu virus. Secondly, serological methods may be applied for a detailed checkup. Then, the national bird flu reference lab works out final confirmation after further examination. In the end, the Ministry of Agriculture will officially acknowledge the disease based on report of the lab.
Can the disease be prevented and controlled?
Jia: Prevention work against bird flu dates back over 100 years and many nations have accumulated valuable experience, which proves the feasibility of preventing a serious outbreak.
The disease can be controlled if effective measures are taken to block the affected area, kill all the infected poultry and sanitize affected areas.
What measures did the government take after the case in Guangxi was reported?
Jia: As soon as the disease was reported, local governments immediately blocked the affected site, slaughtered all the poultry within three kilometers radius of the duck farm in Dingdang town of Long'an county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and vaccinated all the poultry within five kilometers radius of the site. All these were conducted in line with China's Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention and regulations of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Under the direction of the State Council, the Ministry will make painstaking efforts to monitor the situation and prevent further spread of the disease. The Ministry is willing to strengthen exchange and cooperation with relevant world organizations. The Ministry has also made appropriate arrangements for prevention work in other areas.
(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2004)