China not sharing bird flu efforts

Oct. 17, 2005 at 3:48 PM
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BEIJING, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- China is sharing little of its efforts to contain bird flu with the rest of the world, the New York Times reports.

The world's most populous nation and poultry producer identified the first case of the avian influenza strain H5N1 in 1996 in a goose.

Hong Kong researchers this summer reported migratory birds in western China appear to have contracted the disease, although authorities in Beijing say none of China's poultry is currently infected. China has refused to share samples of the disease in migratory birds.

In the past two years, 60 people in Thailand and Vietnam have died from bird flu and health officials worldwide fear the virus could mutate and be transmitted from human to human, creating a pandemic.

"The fact that we've now had human cases in Indonesia certainly makes us think again about the possibility we'll see human cases in China," Peter Cordingley, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, told the Times.

Health officials fear local Chinese officials may be hiding human cases of bird flu as they did when SARS -- severe acute respiratory syndrome -- erupted in 2002.

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