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519 Isolated Bird Flu Deaths in Qinghai China

Recombinomics Commentary
May 25, 2005

>>  The government has tested more than two million farm birds in Qinghai province and found no sign of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu, the China Daily reported......

China ordered all three million poultry in the province inoculated after announcing Saturday that 178 dead migratory geese found in a nature reserve there this month were killed by the virus.

The dead bar-headed geese were found in early May on an island in Qinghai Lake, China's biggest saltwater lake, according to the Agriculture Ministry. <<

Details on the "two million" tests would be useful.  Since H5N1 was first laboratory diagnosed on May 18, collecting and testing 2 million farm birds in 7 days would be quite a technical achievement.  "Testing" was likely the lack of reported deaths in the farm birds in the area.

The quote in the China Daily, " We have surveyed more than 2 million fowls in the whole province, and didn't detect any contagion (of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus) among them," does not indicate "The government has tested more than two million farm birds".  The official statement would be correct if farmers were asked about unusual deaths and little or no actual testing was done.

The OIE report from China indicated 519 birds had died.  The birds represented 5 species, including bar-headed goose (Anser indicus), great black-headed gull (Larus ichthyaetus), brown-headed gull (Larus brunnicephalus), ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) and great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).

These species nest or rest at the Lake Qinghai Nature Reserve during spring migration to nest sites.  The reserve is located in the intersection of the East Asia and Central-South Asia Flyways.

Testing of wild birds at Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve as well as points of origin in India and other locations in China as well as destination points, including southern Russia, would be more useful than visual inspection of farm birds in the area.

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