China sets up center for wild animal disease research

BEIJING, May 26 (Xinhua) — China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have jointly established a research center that will focus on epidemic diseases that affect China’s wild animal population, according to the vice president of the CAS.

The center is expected to monitor, forecast, research and control the spread of disease in the wild, Li Jiaxiang, vice president of the CAS, said on Thursday at an opening ceremony for the center in Beijing. 

The center will use resources from a variety of major domestic institutions, including the SFA and the CAS, and will allow authorities to dispatch early warnings about possible epidemics, Li said.

Yin Hong, vice minister of the SAF, said at the ceremony that the risk of animal diseases being transmitted to humans has increased due to changes in the world’s environment and climate. These changes have sped up the rate at which pathogens evolve, making them more dangerous to humans, Yin said.

China is relatively new to the field of controlling disease outbreaks and is not yet capable of handling a major epidemic in the wild, Yin said, adding that China lacks specialized research on the subject.

According to official sources, China began monitoring and controlling wild animal diseases in March 2005. As of the end of 2010, 350 national monitoring stations and 768 provincial stations, as well as a large number of county-level stations, have been built, according to the sources.

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