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June 8, 2017

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Call to ban all live poultry markets

SHANGHAI disease control researchers are calling on the government to close live poultry markets for good to reduce the risk of humans catching the H7N9 bird flu virus.

Currently the city closes the markets in winter and spring.

A study, conducted by two researchers from the School of Public Health of Fudan University and one from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

They examined the effect of the H7N9 virus on humans in China from 2013 to 2017, and found that the most recent epidemic — reported last winter — had happened earlier and in more locations than previous outbreaks, with considerably more cases in rural and urban fringe areas.

The percentage of cases in those areas climbed to 63 percent, up from 39 percent in the 2013 outbreak. Furthermore, in 48 percent of rural cases and 61 percent of urban fringe cases in the latest epidemic, patients reported contacts with live poultry, according to the study.

The researchers said the regular closing up of live poultry markets in urban areas over the winter and spring seasons had driven the virus to new places and along routes of transportation of the poultry.

An alternative solution to curb the H7N9 epidemic, which had proved to be ever more lethal to humans, would be to close all live poultry markets across the country, the researchers suggested.

China reported the world’s first human case of H7N9 virus in March 2013 and cases have been reported every year since.

Live poultry markets, however, have a long history in China as many people prefer to buy live poultry, considering them to be more tasty.


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