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Go vegetarian to avoid bird flu, says rights group

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 28 (Reuters) Scared about bird flu? Then the only really safe way to protect yourself is to go vegetarian, an animal rights group said today.

Headlining a new Chinese and English-language Web site (www.avianflu.cn) "Avian flu: it's your fault", the group says it is drawing attention to unsavoury factory farming practices.

The cramming together of thousands of chickens in buildings where the birds are never allowed outside was an ideal breeding ground for disease, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement.

"Avian flu is just one symptom of a very sick and cruel industry," it quoted PETA Asia-Pacific director Jason Baker as saying.

"With diseases running rampant in crowded, filthy factory farms and the significant health risks posed by the 'backyard'-type farms common in Asia, the safest thing to do with chicken flesh is to avoid it like the plague," he said.

Bird flu has killed 105 people in Asia and the Middle East since 2003, including 11 people in China, and experts fear the virus could mutate and spread easily from human to human.

The World Health Organisation says properly cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat but anyone handling raw poultry or raw poultry products should wash their hands thoroughly.

REUTERS SB RK1415

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