Zhong Nanshan, a renowned medical expert and academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, warned on Friday that the bird flu epidemic would absolutely expand to more areas globally this year.
But it does not necessarily mean that more human cases of the epidemic will occur," said Zhong, member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The bird flu epidemic has spread from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and even Africa, according to Zhong.
There have already been 168 human cases of bird flu throughout the world, among whom, 88 have died so far, Zhong said at the sideline of the ongoing CPPCC National Committee annual session.
In China, 14 human cases have been found, of which eight have died, according to Zhong.
"Although the death rate of human cases of bird flu is high, it has been found that most people are not infected even if they have had contact with dead birds carrying the virus," he said.
"But I still worry about the current condition," Zhong said.
Firstly, the bird flu epidemic is spreading with an unprecedented rate.
Secondly, wild birds that carry the virus can possibly infect people.
Thirdly, some other animals are also infected with the virus.
"This will possibly result in a variation of the virus," he said.
The Chinese government should attach great importance to the issue, Zhong said.
Meanwhile, a new vaccinating campaign for domestic fowl in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, has been launched this week to prevent the spread of bird flu in the coming spring season.
Poultry kept scattered among local houses will be collected for vaccination and every farm will be required to immunize their cultivated fowl before the end of March, according to Sun Jingmiao, vice-mayor of Hangzhou.
(China Daily March 4, 2006)