H7N9 bird flu: Chinese provinces halt live poultry trade

H7N9 bird flu: Chinese provinces halt live poultry trade

Authorities in eastern China have banned live poultry sales after an increase in the number of people infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu, state media has reported as the busy Chinese new year travel period gets under way.


So far this year H7N9 has killed 19 people in China and infected 96, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which cited the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.


A week ago more than 50 cases had been reported. The virus is believed to pass to humans through direct contact with infected birds.


The jump in cases comes during the 40-day travel period around Chinese new year. Chinese people are expected to make 3.6bn trips as families reunite. Chinese new year is on Friday.


The World Health Organisation has said there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission but recommends continued vigilance and close monitoring given the population movement prior to Chinese new year and sometimes unpredictable behaviour of flu viruses.


Xinhua said live poultry trading had been halted in three cities in coastal Zhejiang province, where 49 cases and 12 deaths have been reported. The province is inspecting farms and banning flights of domestic pigeons.


Neighbouring Shanghai will halt live poultry trading for three months starting on Friday. The city has reported eight infections and four deaths this year.


In Hong Kong authorities began culling 20,000 chickens and suspended imports of fresh poultry from mainland China for 21 days after the discovery of H7N9 in live chickens from the southern province of Guangdong.


Authorities also ordered the closure of the wholesale poultry market, where the virus was discovered, for 21 days until 18 February for cleaning and disinfection. Local farms were banned from supplying

live chickens to the market.


"Agriculture, fisheries and conservation department officers will inspect all the local chicken farms and collect more samples for testing to ensure that local farms are not affected by H7 avian influenza,"

said an official statement.

The Guardian, 28th January 2014

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