News 2199 views update:Mar 9, 2016

Bird flu causes human deaths in China

In China, the death toll from a new strain of bird flu not previously known in humans, has risen to six.

All of the reported infections have been in eastern China and at least four of the dead are in Shanghai, a city of 23 million people.

Commission experts have identified the cause as H7N9, a strain of avian flu not thought to have been transmitted to humans before. There is no vaccine against the strain, the commission said, adding it was currently testing to assess its ability to infect humans. Scientists suggested that the strain could be hard to track because it shows no symptoms in poultry but can be fatal in humans.

Chinese authorities have now begun slaughtering birds at a poultry market in the financial hub of Shanghai. State news agency Xinhua said the Huhuai market for live birds in Shanghai had been shut down and birds were being culled after authorities detected the H7N9 virus from samples of pigeons in the market.

Shanghai has suspended poultry sales at two other markets and ordered through disinfection of the premises. In Huhuai, authorities were conducting proper disposal of the culled birds, their excrement and contaminated food as well as disinfection of the market, Xinhua said. Vietnam has also taken steps to ban imports of Chinese poultry.

In the United States, the White House said it was monitoring the situation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it had started work on a vaccine if it was needed, although it would take five to six months to begin commercial production.

World Poultry

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