UK Times OnlineK
August 01, 2005
Swine flu outbreak kills 34 people
By Jane Macartney in Beijing
CHINA was battling a deadly outbreak of swine flu on several fronts yesterday, rushing vaccine to a southwestern province where 34 people have died, starting a campaign to teach illiterate farmers not to slaughter and eat sick animals and banning journalists from the area.
Vaccine for 350,000 pigs has been flown to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where the infection has spread to about 100 villages, state media said.
Vaccine for 10 million pigs was being produced to combat the disease, which is contracted from slaughtering, handling or eating infected pigs.
The Health Ministry said that Sichuan had 181 confirmed or suspected cases of Streptococcus suis bacteria, or swine flu, the symptoms of which include nausea, fever, vomiting, and bleeding under the skin.
Details of the conditions of patients in Sichuan were not available after the Chinese Government banned journalists from the area, where 31 people were reported to be in a critical condition.
About 50,000 health workers and officials have been sent to the area to inspect and register every pig and authorities have set up 39 temporary quarantine stations to stop dead pigs from reaching markets.
An official at the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention blamed the outbreak on unsanitary conditions at Sichuan’s small-scale pig farms combined with a heat wave.
Beijing has banned pig and pork imports from Sichuan and set up checkpoints around the capital to block diseased pork and avert a health threat to its 15 million residents.