China urged other governments to share more information about bird flu

China on Tuesday urged other governments to share more information about their bird flu cases in people in order to prevent a human pandemic.

Few developing countries other than China have submitted bird flu samples from humans to international organizations, the state-run China Daily newspaper said, citing an unidentified Agriculture Ministry official.

"The international community should further improve the information-sharing mechanism for the disease," the official was quoted as saying.

The report came as health experts were attending a World Health Organization conference in Geneva that was meant to produce guidelines for public health officials to stop a possible human pandemic in its early stages.

Beijing often uses the English-language China Daily to make announcements aimed at foreign audiences.

The WHO's Asia-Pacific regional director, Dr. Shigeru Omi, criticized China's Agriculture Ministry in December for refusing to share samples from animal outbreaks. The ministry did not respond.

China could reap an economic windfall if it creates an effective bird flu vaccine or treatment before foreign competitors that might be helped by access to its virus samples.

WHO says 175 human cases of bird flu have been reported worldwide, 95 of them fatal, since the latest wave of outbreaks began in 2003.

The disease has ravaged poultry flocks around the world.

China this week reported its ninth bird flu death out of 15 confirmed human cases.

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