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Yunnan Guards Against Bird Flu

Southwest China's Yunnan Province, which borders Vietnam, has imposed a series of emergency measures to prevent recently reported outbreaks of avian influenza in Vietnam from spreading into China, sources with the local government said on Saturday.

All major transportation routes, poultry farms, border regions and places that were hit by the bird flu outbreak early last year have been urged to vaccinate poultry.

The provincial government has told local agricultural, health, import and export quarantine, public security, quality inspection departments and customs officials to work together to monitor the possible spread of the disease and distribution of poultry and egg products in Yunnan. Anyone whose dereliction of duty causes the spread of bird flu will be punished harshly, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the local animal husbandry department has set up a 30-kilometer-wide "immune protection zone" in the border area neighboring Vietnam and set up disinfection stations at the frontier passages and border ports. All vehicles and people passing through are inspected and disinfected.

Testing of wild migrating birds is also set to begin.

A three-tier reporting system involving households, villages and townships has been set up in rural areas of Yunnan. Any outbreak of bird flu should be reported to higher authorities within 24 hours.

Yunnan shares a 1,200-kilometer-long border with Vietnam, with nearly 100 markets for cross-border trade.

On January 6, the World Health Organization indicated on its website that it had received reports of two new human cases of infection with avian influenza. Both patients -- children aged six and nine -- had died. Initial tests identified the virus as the H5 subtype.

A 16-year-old girl who was identified as being infected with the deadly H5N1 was reported in late December. She remains hospitalized in critical condition.

All three cases have occurred in the southern part of the country, where poultry outbreaks have been recurring since December.

From January 1 through December 30, 2004, 28 cases of human bird flu infections were reported in Vietnam. Twenty of them were fatal.

(Xinhua News Agency January 10, 2005)

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