China Inoculates 14.2 Domesticated Fowl

The New York Times reports that China is ambitiously inoculating over 14 billion birds – one at a time against bird flu.

According to Chinese news reports, and interviews with people involved in the inoculation effort in several different parts of the country, the vaccination drive is proceeding relatively well in places that have large poultry industries. In the countryside, however, among China‘s peasantry, vaccine is reportedly in short supply, despite the huge production.

Typically, the extension workers who are carrying out the vaccination campaign have little epidemiological training and, like the ones in this village, take virtually no precautions, even to protect themselves against exposure to the disease.
One of the extension workers, who wore no gloves, face mask or any other protection, climbed inside a coop containing a dozen or so chickens and handed the birds out one by one to two of his co-workers. One of them held the birds while the other swabbed them and applied the needle.

Zhang Rongting, an elderly woman who owned the house, then placed the birds in straw crates, covering them with washbowls to calm them and isolate them until the job was complete. Asked what kind of shots her chickens were getting, she said, "You guys know, we don’t."

Toward the end of the afternoon, when the presence of foreigners in the village drew the attention of local officials, the vaccination team donned white smocks for the first time, but continued to handle the birds bare-handed and without masks. After inoculating the geese in one dusty courtyard, the team discarded its used needle on the ground and walked away.

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