China urges greater efforts to control outbreaks of bird flu

China warned Tuesday of further outbreaks of bird flu in humans unless greater efforts were made to prevent and control the epidemic in poultry, state media reported. China reported its eighth case of H5N1 in humans late Monday, saying a 6-year-old boy that had contracted the virus was recovering in a hospital. Three people in China have died from the deadly strain of bird flu, which has swept vast parts of Asia, killing at least 74 people and decimating poultry populations in the region since 2003.

It has also extended into Turkey where officials said three people had died and another 12 were either confirmed or suspected cases, all thought to have resulted from contact with sick birds. Health Ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an called for greater efforts to prevent and control the epidemic among poultry, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

China has reported 27 outbreaks of H5N1 among poultry and slaughtered millions of birds to try to contain its spread. It is also in the midst of a campaign to inoculate all of the country's 5.2 billion poultry.

Monitoring centers have been set up in all of China's 31 municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions to try and enhance its ability to detect outbreaks, especially in rural areas where there is little knowledge about the virus, Xinhua reported.

The Health Ministry is also working to improve the ability of rural medical clinics to detect infections among humans, the news agency said.

Mao said 38,000 people known to have had contact with the eight confirmed human cases had been put under medical observation and that none had displayed "abnormal clinical symptoms," according to Xinhua, reports the AP. I.L.

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