China still holding back on AI data

02-11-2006 | |

According to the world health organization, the Chinese government is still holding back on vital information about bird flu, severely hampering the world’s ability to fight the disease.

After researchers recently reported the discovery of the new Fujian-like strain of the avian influenza virus, it emerged that the Chinese agriculture ministry has not yet provided the WHO with samples of this strain. This is in spite of the fact that 95 percent of samples collected in China between April and June this year were the Fujian-like strain.
The Fujian-like strain is widespread among poultry in China and has caused human cases there, and has also been detected in poultry flocks in other Asian countries including Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand.
Julie Hall, an infectious-disease expert at the WHO’s Beijing office, said: ‘There’s a stark contrast between what we’re hearing from the researchers and what the Ministry of Agriculture says. Unless the ministry tells us what`s going on and shares viruses on a regular basis, we will be doing diagnostics on strains that are old.’
While the new strain has been linked to human cases of avian influenza and has doubtlessly taken root in poultry in some Asian countries, there is no sign that it is more lethal than the existing H5N1 strain.
The WHO’s Michael Perdue said, ‘If you look at the mortality rate and the disease, the Fujian-strain infections are no different.’