Iowa Public Television


World Health Organization Calls on China to Release Avian Flu Samples

posted on December 23, 2005

A senior World Health Organization official appealed to China to release samples of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, saying Friday that Beijing has failed to release any samples from its dozens of outbreaks in poultry this year.

WHO's Asia-Pacific Director Shigeru Omi said that sharing virus samples is crucial to diagnosing new cases, and to developing a vaccine that could prevent a possible pandemic in humans.

According to Omi, China's Ministry of Agriculture shared five samples collected from infected birds last year but has failed to provide any this year. Meanwhile, China's Ministry of Health did agree to to give the WHO samples isolated from two of its six confirmed human cases of bird flu.

Since its discovery in Asia in 2003, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 71 people.

Tags: agriculture animals Asia birds chickens China diseases influenza news poultry