China denies being source of bird flu virus

BEIJING - China’s southern Guangdong province is not the source of the dangerous H5N1 bird flu virus as claimed in a report published in the United States this week, a major state-run Chinese newspaper said on Wednesday.

“The findings, which say Guangdong is the source of the multiple avian flu virus strains spreading both regionally and internationally, are the wrong conclusion to the evidence and lack credibility,” the China Daily quoted He Xia, a Guangdong agricultural official, as saying.

It did not elaborate.

The team at the University of California Irvine reported that Guangdong appeared also to be the source of renewed waves of the H5N1 strain, which has killed or forced the destruction of hundreds of millions of birds.

The researchers looked at samples of the virus taken from across China and as far west as Russia.

The researchers said China’s northwest Qinghai province was another source of bird flu’s spread.

Since 2003, H5N1 has spread to more than 50 countries as far away from China as Nigeria and Britain. The real fear is that the virus could mutate into a form that can easily pass from person to person, sparking a pandemic.

So far it has infected 277 people and killed 167, according to the World Health Organisation.

A woman farmer in southeast Fujian province was last week confirmed as China’s 23rd human case of bird flu.

China, with the world’s largest poultry population and millions of backyard birds roaming free, is seen as key to the fight against bird flu.

Tibet has recorded China’s latest outbreak of the disease in birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its Web site ( on Wednesday.


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