A U.S. official held talks with Chinese officials on coordinating anti-bird flu strategy on Wednesday and urged caution in banning poultry imports, warning that excessive steps could discourage governments from reporting outbreaks.
Meanwhile, Vietnam banned raw blood pudding and poultry-raising in major cities as Asian governments stepped up measures to prevent a potential human outbreak. A Chinese drug company was in talks with the Swiss maker of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu about the possibility of producing it in China.
Charles Lambert, a U.S. deputy undersecretary of agriculture, said Chinese agriculture and quarantine officials have agreed to step up technical cooperation and information exchanges.
"If countries overreact and are overly punitive in their reaction when this disease is reported, that reduces the incentive for other countries to report," Lambert said at a news conference.
China and Vietnam both have banned poultry imports from countries with outbreaks. Vietnam has suffered more than 40 of the 62 human deaths from bird flu in Asia since 2003, while China has had three outbreaks in birds in recent weeks but no human cases.
Lambert said U.S. producers sell $500 million worth of poultry a year to China.
In related developments:
Experts worldwide worry that the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus sweeping through bird flocks in Asia and pockets of eastern Europe could mutate into a human flu that could kill millions.
The Chinese poultry ban affects imports of birds and related products from 14 countries and took effect Friday, according to the Agriculture Ministry Web site.
Vietnam's ban covers poultry and pet birds, according to state media, which did not specify the countries affected. It specifically prohibited raw blood pudding from poultry and animals, according to the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan.
On Tuesday, President Bush outlined a $7.1 billion strategy to prepare for a possible worldwide super-flu outbreak. He said the aim was to overhaul the vaccine industry so every American could eventually be inoculated within six months of a pandemic's beginning.
Mr. Bush also called on other countries to admit when super-flu strains occur, but said the public should not panic about the disease.
China's biggest drug maker, Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group, is seeking permission from Roche Holding AG to produce the anti-viral drug Tamiflu, a possible treatment for a flu pandemic.