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FAO Experts Say China Able to Contain Bird Flu

Experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in Kunming Friday that China is able to contain the bird flu outbreak, since the measures taken by local governments following the outbreak were "timely and appropriate."

Xu Ji, assistant FAO representative to China, made this remark to local officials after he and Laurence Gleeson, another FAO expert, completed a four-day inspection in southwest China's Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"I am greatly impressed by the timely and standard measures taken by the Guangxi and Yunnan governments," said Xu. "Various departments in Guangxi and Yunnan cooperated in their concerted efforts to handle the bird flu outbreak."

He added, "And the compensation measures taken by local governments have won support and understanding from local farmers. This is very important in the efforts to prevent the epidemic spreading."

The FAO experts toured Chenggong County Friday morning, and visited the Yunnan Tropical and Subtropical Animal Virus Diseases Laboratory. About 145,000 fowls were slaughtered in Chenggong after it reported cases of bird flu Feb. 4.

Gleeson, an FAO consultant and senior animal diseases expert, said local governments had taken quick measures to kill all the poultry within a 3-km radius of each site infected with bird flu.

Such measures were very important for keeping the H5N1 virus from being transmitted to more poultry and birds, and that was what the FAO recommended, said Gleeson.

"The emergency measures the government is taking will help people regain their confidence in eating chickens, and restore the business of the poultry-raising industry," he said, adding that he hoped that local governments would continue their monitoring and supervision of the areas infected with bird flu, with special focus on birds and people entering and leaving those areas.

The two experts learned in detail about the technical training and sample test procedures in the animal virus disease lab after they investigated the culling and vaccinating of local poultry, and related compensation work.

"They have accomplished a lot in the diagnosis of the disease," said Gleeson.

"The procedure of their assessment and the equipment they used met the international standards," he said. "The technologies they used are also internationally published."

This is the first time for the FAO to send experts to bird flu-affected areas in China since the first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza was reported in Guangxi on Jan. 27.

To date, confirmed or suspected cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu have been reported in 16 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions on the Chinese mainland, but with no new suspected cases reported over the past four days, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2004)

China Tells WHO, FAO Its Bird Flu Situation
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