China sets up bird flu monitoring system to halt spread of bird flu

China is setting up a surveillance system in an eastern province to monitor wild birds in an attempt to halt any spread of bird flu on a major migration route, the government said Thursday.

One hundred monitoring stations and 1,000 workers will be spread throughout Jiangsu province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The recent discovery of birds infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus strain in the Middle East, Western Europe and Africa has reinforced the belief that wild birds are spreading the disease.

Experts estimate that about 3 million migratory birds will fly to Jiangsu in the next two months as the weather warms, and 5 million more will pass through, Xinhua said. It did not give more details about the birds' routes.

"The huge quantity of migrant birds is a severe challenge. A single infected bird may infect its whole group," the agency quoted Xu Huiqiang, an official with the Jiangsu Forestry Bureau, as saying.

Inspectors will check dead birds and test droppings, and any sign of bird flu will trigger an emergency response, it said, without elaborating.

It said migratory birds are believed to have carried in the H5N1 virus that caused six bird flu outbreaks in four Chinese provinces since October.

Also Thursday, a government Web site and a Hong Kong newspaper said at least 6,000 chicks have died on a poultry farm in southern China's Guangzhou province from a suspected parasite-related illness, but officials have not ruled out bird flu as a cause, reports the AP.


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