BEIJING, February 07 (Online): Chinese scientists have developed a new vaccine that can protect poultry from bird flu for a longer period of time, the ministry of agriculture said as the country braces for the migratory season.
Laboratory tests showed the vaccine enables chickens, ducks and geese to fight H5N1, the highly lethal strain of bird flu, three weeks after the flocks are vaccinated, China Daily said.
The vaccine provides at least 10 months of protection for chickens and ducks -- four months longer than the existing prevention drugs, an official from the epidemic prevention section of the ministry's veterinary bureau told
Geese can be protected for three months.
The vaccine will first be used in Chinese provinces bordering Vietnam and Thailand -- both of which have seen a recent resurgence of the virus, the official said.
The H5N1 virus can also be deadly to humans and is responsible for 33 human deaths in Vietnam since the end of 2003, including 13 since December 30. Twelve people have also died in Thailand.
Officials in Cambodia also confirmed Sunday the first human case of bird flu in Cambodia, involving a Cambodian woman who died in Vietnam.
Chinese officials are hoping the vaccine will help prevent the spread of bird flu from China's neighbors once birds begin migrating north, the official said.
"Spring is almost here. Migratory birds will fly from the south to the north," the official said.
"Some will fly from Thailand and Vietnam to China and the places where they fly will all have to be vaccinated because these birds might carry viruses," the official said.
He indicated a large number of poultry will need to be vaccinated but did not specify how many. China is a major poultry producer.
Vaccinations will be administered not only to poultry farms but water fowls in the country's key water areas, including rivers and lakes, the ministry said in a statement.
China last month told local governments across the country to step up measures to prevent an outbreak of bird flu, with Agriculture Minister Du Qinglin warning China faces a "severe" situation in prevention and control of avian flu.
More than 120 million birds were killed or culled in two huge outbreaks of avian flu throughout Asia last year.