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December 22, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Shanghai to strengthen bird flu checks

There have been no cases of bird flu in Shanghai this year, officials said following the discovery of infected chickens in Hong Kong.

However, inspections are to be strengthened to prevent the virus reaching the city.

The Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said the Shanghai port was constantly inspecting inbound passengers using remote temperature technology. No one suspected of having bird flu had been found up to yesterday.

Meanwhile, Shanghai agricultural authorities have set up inspection points on all main highways to Shanghai.

The Shanghai Agriculture Commission said regular inspections at local wholesale markets had found no cases of the H5N1 virus this year but inspections of birds produced in and outside the city would be strengthened.

A cull of more than 17,000 chickens began yesterday at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong after a chicken carcass tested positive for the deadly virus, a government spokesman said. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong said the market would be closed until January 12.

The Hong Kong government suspended imports of live chickens from China's mainland and the trading of live chickens for 21 days in a bid to prevent any spread of the disease, which can jump to humans.

York Chow, the city's secretary for food and health, has raised the response level for bird flu to "serious" from "alert."

All 30 chicken farms in Hong Kong were inspected on Tuesday. No abnormality was detected, Xinhua news agency reported.

"We do not know if the dead chicken was imported from the mainland or if it's a local chicken," the government spokesman said.

People do not have immunity to the H5N1 virus and researchers worry it could mutate into a form that could spread around the world and kill millions of people.

The current strain of H5N1 is highly pathogenic, kills most species of birds and up to 60 percent of the people it infects, Reuters said.

In 1997, six people died in Hong Kong and 1.3 million chickens were culled.

Hong Kong's last recorded human case of H5N1 was in November 2010. A 59-year-old woman, who became ill after returning from a trip to the mainland, survived.

Since 2003, the virus has infected 573 people around the world, killing 336.


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