China :Jiangsu city halts bird trade over flu epidemic fears

A city in China has suspended the trade of live poultry after reports of human bird flu infections in neighboring regions.

The city of Suzhou, which is the second-largest city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, halted trading live poultry at Sunday midnight, People’s Daily reported on its website on Monday.

At least seven people have been infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu in China this winter. Two of them have died. The two deaths were reported in Anhui Province, west of Suzhou. Anhui has reported five human infections since December 8.

Officials in Anhui have also ordered a shutdown of some livestock markets and stepped up sterilization operations to prevent the virus from spreading.

About 100 kilometers southeast of Suzhou, in the major city of Shanghai, health authorities reported last week that a man had been diagnosed with the H7N9 strain as well.

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

There have also been reports of human bird flu infections in Hong Kong and Macau over the past week.

The last major bird flu outbreak in China began in late 2013 and lasted until early 2014.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, health officials have detected the avian flu virus, but there have been no reports of any human infections yet.

Authorities have ordered precautionary measures to stop the virus from spreading. On Monday, South Korea’s armed forces took part in the country’s biggest-ever poultry cull to help stop the spread of the highly-contagious strain. Armed forces were ordered to destroy 1.6 million birds in affected areas within 24 hours.

The total number of birds destroyed will now reach 26 million since the outbreak was first confirmed.

The army’s mobilization comes amid fears of an epidemic.

The most well-known strain of avian influenza is the highly pathogenic H5N1 subtype, which has caused the death of hundreds of people affected across the world since the virus’ first human infection about 20 years ago in Hong Kong.

By Staff reporter

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