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China Begins Culling Birds Following Bird Flu Scare, CDC Working on Vaccine

Apr 04, 2013 09:06 PM EDT
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Authorities in Shanghai on Thursday closed a live poultry trading zone in an agricultural products market  and have began slaughtering all birds there in response to the recent H7N9 bird flu scare, according to Xinhua news.

Authorities began slaughtering all birds there after detecting H7N9 bird flu virus from samples of pigeon from the market, according to the report.

So far, the strain known as avian influenza A (H7N9) has only been found in China and does not appear to be capable of being passed from person to person. The infections in China mark the first time humans have been afflicted by this new strain of bird flu, which causes severe respiratory illness.

China's Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday it found the H7N9 virus from pigeon samples collected at the Huhuai wholesale agricultural products market in Songjiang district of Shanghai. There is currently no vaccine available for this subtype of the influenza virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

China has confirmed 14 cases of the latest bird flu strain: six in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, and three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui province. Shanghai is the worst hit. China is considered one of the nation's most at risk from bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesman Tom Skinner said on Thursday it is monitoring the new influenza virus and has started work on a vaccine just in case it is needed, according to Reuters.

H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans. The overwhelming majority of human deaths from bird flu have been caused by the more virulent H5N1, which decimated poultry stocks across Asia in 2003.

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