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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 08:01 GMT
China announces bird flu vaccine
By Louisa Lim
BBC, Beijing

A Vietnamese worker cleans chickens at Long Bien market in Hanoi, 31 Jan
Human bird flu resurfaced in Vietnam at the end of December
Chinese scientists have developed a new vaccine for poultry and mammals to prevent the spread of bird flu, according to state media.

The new jab is thought to protect chickens for at least 10 months, four months longer than existing drugs.

Bird flu has killed 45 people in Asia in the past year - mostly in Vietnam.

But the World Health Organization has warned that 100 million people could die if the virus mutated into a form that could pass easily between humans.

A spokesman for the WHO in Manila said the benefits of vaccinating poultry were still unproven, because in certain cases vaccines could mask the symptoms of disease in sick birds.

The China Daily newspaper said that waterfowl in rivers and lakes would be injected with the new vaccine.

But it gave no details as to how such an ambitious programme might be carried out.

This move, according to the Health Ministry, would cut a key link in the disease's train of transmission.

China has not reported any outbreaks of bird flu yet this year, but has still stepped up preventative measures.

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