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April 4, 2013

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

City zoo, parks on alert for bird flu

THE Shanghai Zoo is stepping up monitoring and sterilization of areas where birds live following a number of human infections of a lesser-known strain of bird flu in the country, the zoo operator said yesterday.

"We are enhancing patrols and sterilization in and near the swan lake, bird enclosures and gardens, and we will conduct immediate analyses if birds are found dead inside the zoo," said Bai Jiaming, a zoo official.

Zoo officials said yesterday no birds had died in the zoo since deaths linked to H7N9 avian influenza occurred in Shanghai in March, Bai said.

The zoo's birds are given vaccines for other strains of bird flu on a regular basis, officials said. There are no vaccines for the H7N9 strains.

As of yesterday, the zoo's annual bird watching event scheduled in late April had not been canceled, Bai said.

The zoo is reporting to health authorities on a daily basis, and said it is on alert. Bai said, however, that it is difficult to closely monitor the health of wild birds that fly from elsewhere.

Yesterday's good weather attracted dozens of people to the zoo. Some were observing swans and ducks at the swan lake.

"I think it is safe if we just have a look from far away and do not get close to the swans or touch them. I'm more afraid of people coughing in public areas such as Metro stations," said a local mother, Yu Li, who took her two-year-old daughter to the zoo yesterday.

Some residents, however, weren't as confident.

"I will not go to zoos and will decrease my visits to wet markets until detailed information is released, such as the origin of the flu virus," said a Shanghai resident surnamed Shen.

The management office at People's Square said no symptoms of bird flu had been found among pigeons at the square.

An official surnamed Fu said over 600 pigeons are given a vaccine for other bird flu strains at birth and once a year.

Century Park officials said about 950 pigeons just received vaccines in March, and daily cleaning and disinfection are being conducted.


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