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WHO: Over 5000 Waterfowl Deaths in Qinghai
June 28, 2005
>> Avian flu has killed 5,000 wild birds in China's northwest, five times the number previously reported by the Chinese government, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
Birds are still dying in Qinghai province at the rate of 20 a day, said the leader of a WHO team that visited the remote region last week with Chinese health officials. <<
The initial reports on the WHO media conference on their visit to Qinghai indicates the waterfowl die off was massive. The number of bird deaths was closer to the boxun list which contained over 8000 birds representing 13 species.
The latest OIE filing by the Chinese government for the Qinhai outbreak was on May 21 indicating 519 bird died involving 5 species including the 180 bar headed geese described in initial media reports. Although China had filed two reports on domestic waterfowl deaths in neighboring Xinjiang, they have not updated the Qinghai report, although China did indicate at a press conference following that May 21 OIE report that over 1000 birds had died and the die off from H5N1 bird flu was without precedent.
The current report on the OIE conference indicated birds are still dying.
Although WHO did not report evidence for human deaths, there was a report of 121 human deaths in 18 communities near Qinghai Lake as well as a pneumonia cluster in Tacheng Hospital involving patients and health care workers. The second OIE report described the H5N1 infection of domestic geese in Tacheng between June 1 and June 8. There have also been rumors of local media reports of more recent human deaths in Qinghai.
The reports of human cases require further investigation as the number of bird deaths in Qinhai and Xinjiang continue to spread via migratory birds.