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Bird Flu Deaths in Qinghai China Unprecedented
May 27, 2005
>> The scarce information released about both disease outbreaks had fueled concern about a possible cover-up and rumors on Web sites that as many as 120 people had died of the avian flu.
More than 1,000 bar-headed geese, great black-headed gulls and other birds found this month in the western province of Qinghai died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, Jia said.
"It is a rarity for such large-scale deaths to occur, whether in China or other parts of the world. We have never heard of such a thing," Jia said at a hastily called news conference.
Nevertheless, he said, "No person in Qinghai has been infected by the virus." <<
Although China continues to deny human H5N1 infections, the number of dead birds continue to mount and now exceed 1000. The update at the hastily called news conference suggests the death tool is rapidly growing and without precedent.
In the May 21 report to OIE, the number of dead birds was put at 519. Now, less than a week later, the number has more than doubled. Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve, like all reserves in China, has been closed. However, as the number of dead birds increase, concern that newly infected migratory birds could carry the H5N1 to points north and west increase. The bar-headed geese can fly 1000 miles in a single day, and although some nest at the Qinghai Reserve, others continue on to Southern Russia to nest.
The Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve lies within the intersection of the East Asia and Central South Asia flyways. These two flyways cover all of Asia.
Although China continues to deny H5N1 human infections, official comments have not addressed the cause of death of the 121 people in 18 villages near the Nature Reserve.
In the absence of a diagnosis of these deaths, which coincided in time and place with the bird deaths, speculation and concern will continue to spread