January 15, 2004
China Bans Chicken Imports 3 Nations Amid Bird Flu Crises
China announced a ban on all chicken imports from Vietnam, Japan and South Korea over fears of a bird flu spreading rapidly through farms in the region and also said it planned to disinfect its own chicken farms, state media reported.
The ban extends also to chicken eggs and feathers from the three countries, where the disease has killed millions of chickens, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The avian disease, highly contagious among chickens, also has been passed to people - killing three in Vietnam. But there have been no cases of person-to-person spread.
It is the same strain of bird flu that killed six people in Hong Kong in 1997, when more than 1 million chickens and ducks were culled in the territory.
The bird flu scare comes just as China grapples with new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, another respiratory ailment believed to have originated in animals. A SARS outbreak last year killed 774 people worldwide.
China will also kill or send back any chickens from the affected countries, Xinhua said.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have closed 140 chicken farms to anyone who doesn't work at the farms while they inspect the poultry and disinfect the facilities, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
Vehicles used to transport birds will also be sterilized, and sewage and waste water from chicken farms will be treated, the newspaper reported.
The World Health Organization has said the current bird flu outbreak could prove a bigger problem for the region than SARS, since humans don't seem to have any defenses against the disease.
Bird flu symptoms in humans include fever, coughing and eventual pneumonia.
Hong Kong, Thailand and Cambodia have also banned poultry imports from countries affected by bird flu.