Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 4 News List

China steps up measures to control spread of bird flu

AFP , BEIJING

China has banned the sale, transportation, and consumption of animals that die of unknown illnesses and is offering rewards for reports of sudden animal deaths as it battles to control bird flu.

Amid fears of a pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered agriculture and veterinary authorities across China to immediately report deaths of animals to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

"Systems for the reporting of animals which died from illnesses should be established ... Rewards should be given to those people who have reported illnesses," said a notice on the ministry's Web site yesterday.

It was not clear what sort of reward would be offered.

The directive bans the sale, transportation, processing and consumption of animals that have died of unknown illnesses.

It also says that all animals which died of infectious diseases should be properly disposed of, through either burying, burning or chemical processing under guidelines issued by quarantine authorities.

Cases of such deaths should be documented and local officials must educate the public about the dangers of improper handling and consumption of dead animals, it added.

Cities across China have stepped up measures to combat bird flu after recent outbreaks in the Inner Mongolia region and the provinces of Hunan and Anhui.

All the infected areas remain under quarantine and are closed to outsiders, the China Daily reported.

Meanwhile, the southern city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, has closed bird watching towers in nature reserves and warned visitors not to touch or buy wild birds, the Beijing Youth Daily said. The agriculture ministry on Friday insisted that no human cases of bird flu had been documented in China, although the death of a 12-year-old girl this month in Hunan after she ate a sick chicken aroused concern.

Chinese health officials said she died of pneumonia. The World Health Organization has said it needs more information about the death.

Bird flu has killed more than 60 people in Asia since late 2003.

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