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December 23, 2016

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Patient treated in Shanghai as cases of bird flu rise

CHINA has reported two more cases of human bird flu infection, with one patient being treated in a Shanghai hospital, bringing the total number to three this week as other Asian nations battle to control outbreaks.

Health officials in South Korea and Japan have been scrambling to contain outbreaks of different strains of bird flu, with the poultry industry in both countries bracing for heavy financial losses.

A man diagnosed with the H7N9 strain of bird flu is being treated in Shanghai, after traveling from neighboring Jiangsu Province, the city’s health commission said on its website.

The local government in Jiangsu is looking into the origin of the infection, the provincial health authority said.

In Xiamen, a city in southeast China’s Fujian Province with a population of around 3.5 million, local authorities ordered a halt to poultry sales from yesterday in the Siming district after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with H7N9 flu on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The patient is being treated in hospital and is in stable condition, Xinhua said, citing Xiamen’s center for disease prevention and control.

The latest reports of infection come after Hong Kong confirmed that an elderly man had been diagnosed with the disease earlier in the week.

They also follow reports that South Korea and Japan have ordered the killing of tens of millions of birds over the past month, fueling fears of a regional spread.

Bird flu is most likely to strike in winter and spring, and farmers have in recent years been increasing cleaning regimes, animal detention techniques and built roofs to cover pens where they keep poultry, among other steps, to prevent the disease.

In the past two months, more than 110,000 birds have been killed following bird flu outbreaks, according to China’s Ministry of Agriculture. They did not lead to human infection.

Each year, China slaughters 11 billion birds for consumption.

Authorities have not culled any birds as a result of this week’s episodes, which appear to be isolated cases.

Still, farmers worry that the virus could spread, hurting demand for chicken as the industry prepares for a peak in demand during Lunar New Year celebrations at the end of January.

Amid recent outbreaks elsewhere, the Chinese are feeding their flocks more vitamins and vaccines and ramping up sterilization procedures in a bid to protect their birds.

On Wednesday, authorities said that they would ban imports of poultry from countries where there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu. It already prohibits imports from more than 60 nations, including Japan and South Korea.

The last major bird flu outbreak on China’s mainland was in 2013. It killed 36 people and caused around US$6.5 billion in losses to the agriculture sector.

Delegations from Japan, South Korea and China were in Beijing last week for a symposium on preventing and controlling bird flu and other diseases, according to China’s agriculture ministry.


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