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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August, 2005, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Beijing combats pig-borne disease
A pig looks over his pen in China's south-west Sichuan province
Beijing has banned pork from Sichuan province
Beijing officials have imposed a series of measures to try to prevent the spread of a pig-borne bacterial disease that has killed at least 36 people.

The capital has now banned the sale of pork from the infected south-west province of Sichuan, according to the country's state media.

But there are also reports that rural farmers are failing to dispose of infected carcasses properly.

A total of 198 human cases of the disease have now been confirmed.

The infection - caused by the streptococcus suis bacterium - first appeared in Sichuan in June, but cases have also been reported in recent days in Guangdong province and neighbouring Hong Kong.

Beijing has banned the sale of some 4,000 tonnes of pork and pork products from Sichuan in an effort to stem the spread of the disease, the Beijing Times reported on Tuesday.

The capital's health authorities have also issued guidelines on the detection and prevention of the disease, the newspaper said.

They have banned the illegal slaughter of pigs, and ordered restaurants not to serve pork that has not been quarantined.

But in rural areas, some impoverished farmers are continuing to eat infected pigs or sell them locally, according to the media.

"Households are not following guidelines in dealing with sick and dead pigs to prevent possible harm," the Beijing News warned.

Mass education

Sichuan has launched a campaign to educate farmers and their families against eating sick pigs.

The authorities there have also begun to manufacture large quantities of pig vaccine, although a vaccine for humans is reportedly still unavailable.

On Monday the World Health Organization urged China to carry out further tests on the disease, saying the high mortality rate could mean other factors were involved as well as streptococcus suis.

"Another bacteria, another virus, some sort of toxic substance or something happening in the environment, we don't know," said WHO spokesman Bob Dietz.

The streptococcus suis survives in faeces, dust and carcasses.

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Country profile: China
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