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China Says Bird Flu Still Spreading

November 20, 2005|Stephanie Hoo | Associated Press Writer

BEIJING — China said bird flu was spreading among its poultry flocks despite mammoth efforts to control the disease, while leaders at an Asia-Pacific summit warned that greater vigilance is needed to prevent human infections.

U.S. President George W. Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin were among the leaders Friday pledging unity in combating bird flu at the summit in Pusan, South Korea.

Even isolated North Korea announced it was stepping up surveillance of poultry and launching education campaigns.

"Projects to prevent bird flu are deepening further," the government's official Korean Central News Agency said.

The near-daily reports of new bird flu outbreaks in China point to the challenges in controlling the virus. Hundreds of millions of birds have been vaccinated, yet the government reported two new poultry outbreaks on Friday -- bringing to 15 the number of cases confirmed since Oct. 19.

Most human cases have been traced to contact with sick birds, but experts warn that the virus could mutate into a form easily passed between people and spark a worldwide pandemic.

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