The reports coming out of Jiangsu Province for the past few weeks have painted a picture of a major outbreak of what was assumed to be bird flu. Many of the reports have been less than complementary towards the government, suggesting either neglect or a cover up.
Today Xinhua, the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC), has a confusing report denying that the bird deaths were caused by bird flu.
The government spokesman appears to be saying that the `mutant strain of H5N1' reportedly discovered in Jiangsu was not responsible for the recent high mortality in birds. But then, the first `official' report denied any bird deaths had occurred at all.
Here is the official report.
As to how much credence to give it, I'll leave that up to the reader.
BEIJING, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- The recent tide of poultry death in two cites in east China's Jiangsu Province was not from the infection of bird flu, said an agricultural official here on Friday.
The provincial agriculture and forest bureau held a press conference on Friday to clarify wrong reports by some media saying sample chickens, which were tested positive of mutant H5N1 virus from Dongtai City and its neighboring Hai'an County were among the dead chickens.
"The sample chickens for the test were living ones, which did not show symptoms of sickness," said Wu Peiliang, head of the bureau.
He said the provincial animal disease prevention and control center has found the tide of chicken death was resulted from a respiratory syndrome, which was mainly caused by low temperature.
The bureau did not give the figure on dead chickens.
Wu said that the mutant H5N1 virus found in the two cities were similar to the one found on sample chickens in north China's Shanxi Province in 2006. China has developed effective vaccines to fight the virus.
"The vaccine has been sent to poultry farmers for free. The vaccination work will be finished by Saturday," he said.
A total of 377,000 birds have been killed after the bird flu virus was found in the province, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday. But no outbreak of the bird flu was reported in the two areas and their nearby regions, the ministry said.
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