Colds and flu

Updated 04 July 2014

China halts poultry trading after new H7N9 cases

Authorities in eastern China announced a ban on live poultry sales following an increase in the number of people infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu.

Authorities in eastern China announced a ban on live poultry sales following an increase in the number of people infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu, with the busy Chinese New Year travel period already under way.

So far this year, the virus has killed 19 people in China out of 96 infections, Feng Zijian, the deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said, according to state media. A week ago, more than 50 cases had been reported. The virus remains hard to catch and most cases have been linked to contact with poultry.

Live poultry in trains and buses

The jump in cases comes during the 40-day travel period around Chinese New Year, a period that concerns health authorities because of the volume of people travelling in crowded trains and buses, often with live chickens aboard.

Chinese are expected to make 3.6 billion trips as families reunite. The holiday, which officially starts on Friday, also falls during the winter months when flu typically rages.

Hong Kong authorities began culling 20 000 birds at a wholesale market after poultry from southern mainland China tested positive for the H7N9 virus, the first time it had been found in imported poultry in Hong Kong.

Live poultry trading will be halted in cities in coastal Zhejiang province from 15 February, where 49 people have been infected and 12 people have died this year, according to the Zhejiang Daily, which is run by the province's propaganda department. From July, city poultry markets will be closed.

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

Close monitoring

The World Health Organization says there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, but has recommended close monitoring given the holiday travel and the potentially unpredictable behaviour of flu viruses.

Over the weekend, health authorities in eastern Jiangxi province confirmed a second human case of H10N8, a new strain of bird flu known to affect humans. They said the 55-year-old woman was in a critical condition. The first case was confirmed in December after a 73-year-old woman died from the virus.

Read more:

H7N9 vaccine may take months

Deadly H7N9 bird flu still a threat

H7N9 bird flu virus resistant to drugs



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Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
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Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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