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Bird flu fight achieves initial success

   BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has announced that China has stamped out all the 49 bird flu outbreaks in the mainland as the isolation in thelast two bird flu-hit areas was lifted Tuesday.

  "The fight against the bird flu has achieved initial success," said Jia Youling, a ministry spokesman for highly pathogenic avianinfluenza (HPAI) control, at a press conference here Tuesday.

   The last two bird-flu-affected areas were in Nanning City of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Lhasa City of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The first bird-flu outbreak in the Chinese mainland was reported in Dingdang Town, Guangxi's Long'an County on Jan. 27.

   China controled the bird flu epidemic in a short period thanks to the rigorous measures in the battle against the epidemic, said Jia. Statistics show that in the campaign, China culled 9 million poultries.

   While mass culling was strictly conducted, compulsory vaccination was also introduced in the bird flu-hit areas, Jia added.

   "So the epidemic did not spread to other areas outside the birdflu-hit spots," the spokesman said.

   However, Jia said the situation in bird flu prevention and control is still grave.

   Outlining major difficulties, Jia Youling said there are still water fowls that carry the virus and there will be more chances for the trans-regional spread of the disease as there will be morelong-distance transportation of poultry and substantial replenishment of birds in the poultry production.

   As the weather is warming up in most parts of the north, migratory birds will fly northwards on a large scale, which may result in the spread of the pathogen, he added.

   In addition, the disease still exists in some countries or regions surrounding China, hence the risk of the disease spreadinginto China.

   Finally, the tremendous difficulty encountered in the disease prevention and control has not been overcome at the root since thepoultry production of China is a large, wide-spreading industry, and many places suffer from very poor conditions for disease control.

   China raises 13.2 billion poultry a year, only 40 percent of which are bred in large scale.

   "Therefore, the possibility of HPAI coming again is great, andno effort should be spared in its prevention and control," Jia stressed.

   In light of the current situation, the Ministry of Agriculture calls on the competent animal husbandry and veterinary authoritiesto follow up with the plans of the National HPAI Prevention and Control Headquarters and sum up the experience they have obtained in the past few weeks so as to further intensify the work of combating the epidemic.

   In addition, China will build an effective and long-term epizootic prevention mechanism to enhance the overall control capacity of the country, Jia concluded. Enditem

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