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China denies human bird flu death
27/5/2005 8:54

Shanghai Daily news

China yesterday denied Internet rumors that 112 people died in the northwest after contracting the bird flu virus from wild geese.
Meanwhile, the government has updated the number of migratory birds that fell victim to the H5N1 virus at a nature reserve in Qinghai Province to 519 as of May 18.
"It is a total rumor that 112 people have died of bird flu," Jia Youling, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary Bureau, yesterday told Shanghai Daily, citing Internet reports over the casualties.
Jia confirmed that 519 migratory birds, mostly the bar-headed geese, had died from the deadly H5N1 flu strain.
Authorities earlier reported that 178 migratory birds died around the Qinghai Lake in the northwestern province.
The Ministry of Health said yesterday there were no reported human cases of bird flu or unexplained pneumonia since the avian flu was confirmed at the nature reserve.
The ministry said in a statement that authorities have found no evidence that bird flu had spread to humans and domestic poultry.
It also said the bird flu epidemic at Qinghai Lake was the latest outbreak since H5N1 was found last July in chickens in Chaohu City, Anhui Province.
The health authority attributed the death of the 178 bar-headed geese to the avian flu on May 21.
Following the report, Qinghai authorities suspended tourism at a bird island on Qinghai Lake, the country's largest saltwater lake.
The 0.27-square-kilometer island is home to more than 100,000 birds including rare species such as swans, black-necked cranes and brown-headed gull. Large numbers of visitors flock to the area to watch birds each year.
Bar-headed geese are under second-tier state protection for wildlife.
Geese deaths were first reported in Niannaisuoma Village of Gangcha County on May 4.
Qinghai health officials screened all pneumonia and flu-like cases, setting up a network to share information. They urged residents to take special precautions, the Ministry of Health said.
Consumption of birds found dead has been banned, it said.
Researchers in northern China have developed two new vaccines capable of preventing the H5N1 strain of bird flu from spreading among birds, animals or humans. The medicine was sent to Gangcha County.
The vaccines are reportedly more effective than others in preventing spread of the virus among water fowl. They also reportedly extend immunity to chickens by four months.