Mon, Aug 21, 2006 - Page 1 News List

China protests over UN's bird flu `slur'

AFP , BEIJING

China has blasted as "groundless and irresponsible" a UN report that recent bird flu outbreaks in Thailand and Laos were caused by a virus strain originating in China, state media said yesterday.

"This is groundless and irresponsible," the agriculture ministry said, according to a report on the People's Daily Web site.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday that outbreaks in the Thai province of Nakhon Phanom and near the Laotian capital Vientiane were caused by a strain that originated in China and had not been seen in that region before.

The ministry said the country has not exported any poultry products to Thailand or Laos since 2004 when China first reported a H5N1 outbreak in its poultry.

"Nakhon Phanom ... and ...Vientiane, where the virus strain was detected, are both very far from the Chinese border," the ministry said.

It emphasized that as the prevention and control abilities of different countries varied, most reports were inconclusive and could not safely be used to detect new trends. Also complicating the case is the fact that the virus can be transmitted by wild birds, the ministry said.

"So it is irresponsible to decide that the strain of virus detected in Thailand was from a certain country before having sufficient evidence," the ministry said.

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