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Poultry Farmers Fight Boredom and Bird Flu

Duck farmer Xuan Nanhuo and his family have been quarantined in their home for nine days since a suspected case of bird flu was found on the farm, but their only complaint is mild boredom.

"I am fine in my quarantined house and my lunch is made of pork," said Xuan Sunday, from his farm in Yiyuan village of east China's Shanghai Municipality.

Xuan Nanhuo's family is one of six families quarantined and under medical observation in the village, where more than 300,000 birds within 3 kilometers of the infected spot have been culled and disinfected.

In most Chinese regions infected by the highly infectious avian influenza, the life of the villagers and nearby residents are calm and normal despite the compulsory prevention measures.

"Everyday, doctors will come to test our blood and take our temperatures. Rice, meat, vegetables and other necessities are sent to the village through a special quarantine route," said Xu Shengwei, a duck farmer in east China's Zhejiang Province whose village was quarantined after an outbreak of the disease.

"Everything is normal, but a little boring as we can only watch TV, or chat with our friends or relatives on the telephone," said Xu.

Check stations are manned by police and villagers at every road entrance to the quarantined area in Yiyuan village and details of passing vehicles are recorded and their tyres disinfected.

The same situation exists in the quarantined areas of Long'an County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and Pingyu County, central China's Henan Province.

At the market of Dingdang town, Long'an County, business carries on except that poultry produce such as chicken, duck and goose is no longer on sale.

"In Dingdang town, 14,000 birds have been culled, buried 10 meters underground and disinfected with lime, and the burial site will be quarantined for 21 days," said Yan Ming, a veterinarian on watch at the site.

In Pingyu County, over 19,000 birds have been culled and 91,800within 3 to 8 kms have been compulsorily disinfected.

The village hit by the deadly epidemic in Luding city, south China's Guangdong Province, are sprayed with lime to disinfect the area.

"At first I was a little afraid, but after reading the little book distributed by the disinfection personnel, my fear was much relieved," said Huang Ximei, a 12-year-old girl who has been quarantined at her village.

"The village committee will ask for authorized absence from school for my daughter," said Huang Ximei's mother.

Although a little regretful about their culled chickens, the local government has promised compensation, so the mother is satisfied.

"Effective measures have been taken to control the spread of the epidemic and to maintain a normal life," said Tan Zhengxun, deputy director of the Luoding city bird flu prevention and control team.

(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2004)

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