China’s Suzhou city to halt live poul­try trade over bird flu cases

‘Such virus mu­tates and ac­quires ge­netic changes’

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

A Chi­nese city said yes­ter­day it will sus­pend the trade of live poul­try in the in­ter­ests of public health af­ter neigh­bor­ing prov­inces re­ported cases of hu­man bird flu in­fec­tions. Suzhou, the sec­ond-big­gest city in the eastern prov­ince of Jiangsu, will halt trad­ing of live poul­try at mid­night (1600 GMT), the of­fi­cial Peo­ple’s Daily re­ported on its web­site. Two peo­ple have died of the H7N9 strain of bird flu in China this win­ter, the first fa­tal­i­ties among at least seven in­fec­tions.

In the past week, Hong Kong and Ma­cau have also re­ported their first hu­man bird flu in­fec­tions for this sea­son. H7N9 had not been de­tected in ei­ther hu­mans or an­i­mals in China un­til March 2013. The city of Shang­hai, about 100 km (62 miles) south­east of Suzhou, re­ported last week that a man had been di­ag­nosed with the H7N9 strain af­ter trav­el­ling from Jiangsu. The two deaths were in An­hui prov­ince, west of both Shang­hai and Suzhou. An­hui has re­ported five hu­man in­fec­tions since Dec. 8.

Au­thor­i­ties in An­hui, which has a pop­u­la­tion of almost 60 mil­lion, have shut some live­stock mar­kets and stepped up ster­il­iza­tion to pre­vent the virus spread­ing. “A few” chick­ens had been culled. In Xi­a­men, a city in Fu­jian prov­ince also in the east, au­thor­i­ties halted poul­try sales in one dis­trict on Thurs­day af­ter a 44-year-old man was di­ag­nosed with H7N9, state news agency Xin­hua re­ported. The H7N9 strain does not seem to trans­mit eas­ily from per­son to per­son, and sus­tained hu­man-to­hu­man in­fec­tion has not been re­ported, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO).

The dan­ger with any such virus is that it mu­tates and ac­quires ge­netic changes that might in­crease its pan­demic po­ten­tial. In China, the WHO con­firmed two cases of an emerg­ing strain be­lieved to be a cross-species in­fec­tion in the past two months. A woman in Hu­nan prov­ince and an­other woman in Guangxi were ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with the H5N6 strain, first re­ported in China in mid-2014. In Guang­dong, a trav­eler was caught car­ry­ing 1.3 kg (2.9 lb) of chicken and duck eggs that later tested pos­i­tive for bird flu, the state-run China Eco­nomic News re­ported on its web­site yes­ter­day.

The eggs found in the lug­gage of the Viet­namese trav­eler at Guangzhou air­port on Dec 14 tested pos­i­tive for the H5 strain, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, which cited the pro­vin­cial quar­an­tine bureau. The most well-known strain of avian in­fluenza is the highly path­o­genic H5N1 sub­type, which has killed hun­dreds of peo­ple glob­ally since its first hu­man in­fec­tion about two decades ago in Hong Kong. The last ma­jor bird flu out­break in main­land China - from late 2013 to early 2014 - killed 36 peo­ple and led to more than $6 bil­lion in losses for the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

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