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December 26, 2016

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Suzhou suspends poultry trade amid bird flu scare

SUZHOU says it will suspend the trade of live poultry in the interests of public health after neighboring provinces reported cases of human bird flu infections.

The second-biggest city in Jiangsu Province halted trading of live poultry at midnight last night, People’s Daily reported on its website.

Two people have died of the H7N9 strain of bird flu on China’s mainland this winter, the first fatalities among at least seven infections.

In the past week, Hong Kong and Macau have also reported their first human bird flu infections for this season.

H7N9 had not been detected in either humans or animals in China until March, 2013.

Shanghai reported last week that a man had been diagnosed with the H7N9 strain after traveling in Jiangsu.

The two deaths were in Anhui Province, which has reported five human infections since December 8.

Authorities in Anhui, which has a population of almost 60 million, have shut some livestock markets and stepped up sterilization to prevent the virus spreading. “A few” chickens had been culled.

In Xiamen, a city in Fujian Province in the southeast, authorities halted poultry sales in one district Thursday after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with H7N9, Xinhua reported.

The H7N9 strain does not seem to transmit easily from person to person.

And sustained human-to-human infection has not been reported, the World Health Organization says.

The danger with any such virus is that it mutates and acquires genetic changes.

This could increase its pandemic potential, medical authorities say.

In China, the WHO confirmed two cases of an emerging strain believed to be a cross-species infection in the past two months.

A woman in Hunan Province and another woman in Guangxi were admitted to hospital with the H5N6 strain, first reported in China since mid-2014.

In Guangdong, a traveller was caught carrying 1.3kg of chicken and duck eggs that later tested positive for bird flu, the China Economic News reported on its website yesterday.

The most well-known strain of avian influenza is the highly pathogenic H5N1 subtype.

It has killed hundreds of people globally. The last major bird flu outbreak on the mainland — from late 2013 to early 2014 — killed 36 people.


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