New Outbreak of Avian Flu Reported in Inner Mongolia

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A fresh outbreak of avian flu is reported to have taken place at a poultry farm in Tengjiaying Village, Inner Mongolia, killing 2,600 birds, Xinhua News Agency reported on October 19. China’s national bird flu laboratory confirmed it was the H5N1 strain, which is potentially lethal to humans. The outbreak was quickly brought under control, with no cases of human infection identified, Xinhua said.

This year, China has seen avian flu outbreaks in Qinghai province, Xinjiang, and Tibet autonomous regions, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of poultry. So far, there have been no reported human infections. As the world biggest producer of poultry, China faces high risk of pandemic bird flu if the issue is not tackled effectively. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, China produces a quarter of the world's chickens, two-thirds of the world's domesticated ducks, and almost nine-tenths of the world's domesticated geese.

More frequent outbreaks of bird flu worldwide, and related human deaths in neighboring countries, have led to increased vigilance among Chinese authorities. Today, Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu announced a directive from President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao for officials to go all-out to prevent the spread of the virus. In late September, China’s Ministry of Health launched a new contingency plan for enhancing national readiness against a possible outbreak of pandemic influenza, Xinhua reported. The plan utilizes four levels of alert—red, orange, yellow and blue—to indicate the seriousness of a pandemic outbreak.