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No humans involved in bird flu outbreak
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The bird flu outbreak in the capital of Guangdong province has not involved any humans, provincial governor Huang Huahua said on March 17, 2008, in Beijing on the sidelines of the NPC sessions.

The outbreak, which was first noticed last Thursday at a poultry market in Guangzhou's Liwan district, killed 114 birds and triggered the culling of another 518, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

The case involved poultry at the Jinhua New Market in Liwan. Guangzhou's agriculture bureau said all the infected poultry were purchased from a non-licensed poultry wholesale market in the Nanhai district of Foshan, Guangdong.

The wholesale market in Nanhai had in turn bought the poultry from neighboring Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region earlier on March 6, He Rucheng, the vice-director of agriculture bureau of Nanhai district, said.

The illegal market in Nanhai was shut down on Friday. More than 2,000 live birds purchased from Guangxi by the market were also culled.

The outbreak of bird flu prompted neighboring Hong Kong to suspend live poultry imports from the affected area in Liwan, the Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong said.

There are two ornamental bird farms registered to export to Hong Kong within a 13-km radius of the affected area in Liwan. These businesses were ordered to suspend their exports to Hong Kong for 21 days, Guangdong exit-entry inspection and quarantine bureau officials said.

The decision for the suspension was made on Sunday, Hong Kong's Food and Health Bureau said.

Relevant departments in Hong Kong said they would reinforce the inspection of poultry imports from other parts of the mainland as well as strengthen the interception of illegal poultry imports.

The National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory confirmed that the affected birds tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus on Sunday, marking the country's fifth outbreak among poultry this year.

"We have built up strict surveillance measures for people who are working in zoos, poultry farms and the poultry transportation sectors to prevent human infection," Xiong Yuanda, an official of Guangzhou health bureau, said.

People should not touch live poultry to prevent becoming infected with bird flu, medical expert Zhong Nanshan said.

Experts fear the H5N1 virus will mutate into a form that allows for human-to-human transmission and spark a pandemic.

(China Daily March 18, 2008)

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