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China reports fourth bird flu outbreak

/ Source: The Associated Press

China reported its fourth bird flu outbreak in three weeks Thursday, saying the virus killed nearly 9,000 chickens in a northeastern village, prompting authorities to destroy 369,900 other birds.

The outbreak occurred Oct. 26 in Badaohao, a village in Liaoning province, east of Beijing, the Agriculture Ministry said in a report posted late Thursday on the Web site of the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

The report came despite Chinese government efforts to tighten controls on the country’s vast poultry flocks and vaccinate millions of birds.

Authorities also found 20 dead magpies and other wild birds, said the report by the ministry’s Veterinary Bureau.

Local veterinarians initially suspected Newcastle disease, another poultry infection, but laboratory tests showed it was the H5 strain of bird flu on Nov. 1, the report said.

The H5 strain is not the same type that has proven deadly to humans. The H5N1 strain began ravaging poultry stocks across Asia and jumped from birds to people in late 2003. Since then, it has killed at least 62 people in Southeast Asia.

It said officials quarantined the area and ordered the vaccination of 13.9 million poultry in Liaoning.

China’s first reported bird flu case in the latest round of outbreaks occurred Oct. 14 on a farm in the northern region of Inner Mongolia.

Other outbreaks were reported in Anhui province in the east and in Hunan in central China. No human cases have been reported.

At each outbreak site, the government has destroyed thousands of chickens and ducks in an effort to contain the virus.

The government this week ordered authorities throughout the country to step up disease monitoring and announced the creation of a $250 million fund to finance anti-bird flu work.