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China Bird Flu Scare: Shanghai Begins Culling Poultry

Update Date: Apr 04, 2013 08:51 PM EDT

In response to the recent H7N9 bird flu scare in China which has already killed four, Shanghai started culling chickens from the area's poultry dealers on Friday, Shanghai Daily reports.

Authorities in Shanghai on Thursday closed a live poultry trading zone in an agricultural products market and began slaughtering all birds there after detecting H7N9 bird flu virus from samples of pigeon from the market, according to the report.

China's Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday it found the H7N9 virus from pigeon samples collected at the Huhuai wholesale agricultural products market in Songjiang district of Shanghai. There is currently no vaccine available for this subtype of the influenza virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

China has confirmed 14 cases of the latest bird flu strain: six in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui province. Shanghai is the worst hit.

H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans. The overwhelming majority of human deaths from bird flu have been caused by the more virulent H5N1, which decimated poultry stocks across Asia in 2003.

WHO said in a statement that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission in the reported cases.

China is considered one of the nation's most at risk from bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.

The WHO said Thursday that it was in contact with Chinese health officials and is following the event closely. The WHO-coordinated international response is also focusing on work with WHO Collaborating Centers for Reference and Research on Influenza and other partners to ensure that information is available and that materials are developed for diagnosis, treatment and vaccine development.

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