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The Chinese government says it will send inspection teams across the country to ensure that farmers trying to fight bird flu do not give chickens a human anti-flu drug.

The statement was made in response to reports that farmers in China were being encouraged to use amantadine, a drug normally given to people.

Xu Shixin, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's veterinary office denied yesterday (20 June) that the government was encouraging the drug's use.

Researchers fear that giving the drug to chickens could help H5N1, the virus responsible for the bird flu epidemics in Asia, become resistant to it.

This would mean the drug could not be used to protect humans from H5N1.

Drug resistant strands of H5N1 have already been found in Thailand and Vietnam.

The World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization have expressed concern over the reports.

Shixin said the government would supply farmers with a cheaper and more effective drug to replace amantadine. He did not say where amantadine was being used.

Link to full story on China Daily

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