Chinese officials ramp up avian flu prevention plans

More than 20,000 birds have been culled in Shanghai in an effort to stop the spread of a new strain of avian flu that’s killed six people.

The first three diagnosed cases of the H7N9 strain were confirmed Sunday. Since then, a total of 14 cases have been reported in China, along its eastern coast, CNN reports. There have been no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission yet, although officials have found a “genetic overlap” between the strain infecting humans and pigeons in a Shanghai poultry market. Chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons from a live poultry trade zone were culled.

Officials are in the process of temporarily closing all live poultry markets in Shanghai and disinfecting them.

A seven-year-old Hong Kong girl also is being tested for the virus after returning from Shanghai with flu-like symptoms, according to The Economic Times. If confirmed, it will be the city’s first official case. Officials have said the girl had contact with poultry.

Hong Kong health officials plan to increase poultry testing and health checks on those crossing the border, the Times reports.

In Jiangsu, where several of the cases have been reported, authorities have designated treatment centers and stepped up monitoring programs.

Vietnam imposed an immediate ban on all Chinese poultry imports and increased monitoring at its northern border. The government also culled “thousands” of chickens that had been smuggled over the border, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thailand also is watching the situation. Officials there have been instructed to examine droppings and carcasses of migrant birds and to restrict poultry imports, according to Bernama, the national news agency of Malaysia.

Most are familiar with the H1N1 strain of avian flu that first became a concern in 2003 among those who had contact with infected birds. Since then, it’s killed more than 350 globally.

For more avian flu coverage from Neogen blog, click here.

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