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China on high alert over new bird flu cases – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

China on high alert over new bird flu cases – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Local authorities set to close live poultry markets in major cities [EPA]
Chinese officials are taking measures to prevent the spread of H7N9, a deadly strain of bird flu that has already killed 22 people this year.Three members of the same Chinese family contracted H7N9 in Hangzhou, the capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, the worst-affected by the current spike in cases.

Local authorities are set to close live poultry markets in major cities, according to reports in official media.

Live poultry trading will be halted in cities in coastal Zhejiang province from February 15, and neighbouring Shanghai will stop trading for three months beginning on Friday.

So far this year, China has confirmed 110 human H7N9 cases, including 22 deaths, according to an AFP news agency’s tally of reports by local authorities.

By comparison there were 144 infections and 46 deaths in all of 2013, according to official figures.

Zhejiang alone has seen 53 cases this year, almost half the national total, and 12 deaths.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s only wholesale poultry market began culling 20,000 chickens and suspended imports of fresh poultry from mainland China for three weeks after the discovery of the H7N9 bird flu virus in a batch of live chickens from the southern province of Guangdong.

The government order took effect on Tuesday, two days before the start of the Chinese New Year, when poultry sellers generally anticipate a surge in sales.

Easily transmitted

China’s human H7N9 outbreak began in February 2013 and sparked fears the virus could mutate to become easily transmissible between people, potentially triggering a pandemic.

Both Chinese authorities and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have said there has been no evidence so far of sustained human-to-human transmission.

But limited spread, such as between relatives in close contact, is possible, and there have been previous such family clusters.

The WHO said on Wednesday that the spike in cases this year was not surprising due to seasonal factors, rather than a virus mutation.

“Today there is no evidence that the characteristics of the virus have changed in a way that would explain an increase in cases and change in case fatality,” WHO Representative in China Bernhard Schwartländer told the AFP news agency.

“Mutated” Bird Flu Kills 19, Infects 96 In 2014 Already; China Says Epidemic Risk Unchanged | Zero Hedge

“Mutated” Bird Flu Kills 19, Infects 96 In 2014 Already; China Says Epidemic Risk Unchanged | Zero Hedge.

The H7N9 mutation of the bird flu virus is “more prone to human infection” than the H5N1 virus, with the fatality rate reaching 20-30%. China’s National Influenza Center (CNIC) has reported athat H7N9 has killed 19 in China this year already and the total number of infections has reached 96. Although , as always, details are few and far between, CNIC’s Shu Yuelong states that “the risk assessment of H7N9 epidemic outbreak is unchanged,” despite the admission that the virus is more difficult to prevent as there is no obvious symptom for H7N9 infected poultrySouth Korea has expanded a poultry cull on fears of contagion.

 

Via Xinhua,

H7N9 bird flu has killed 19 in China this year already, and the total number of human infections has reached 96, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center (CNIC), said on Monday that a large-scale H7N9 epidemic is unlikely during the Spring Festival holiday, as no H7N9 virus mutation that could affect public health has been identified so far.

 

There is no evidence of constant inter-human transmission, and the risk assessment of H7N9 epidemic outbreak is unchanged,” said Shu.

 

Shu reiterated that H7N9 is more prone to human infection than H5N1, with H7N9 case fatality rate reaching 20 to 30 percent.

 

The virus is more difficult to be prevented as there is no  obvious symptom for H7N9 infected poultry, and at present the  CNIC is not able to precisely predict the direction of the  mutation of the H7N9 virus.

 

“We will continue to strengthen monitoring and carry out research,” said Shu.

 

On Sunday, the National Health and Family Planning Commission issued a paper on H7N9 diagnosis and treatment, noting that early report, diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to prevent and control the virus.

And South Korea is slaughtering 1.4 million farm birds…

South Korea is expanding a poultry cull in a bid to contain the spread of bird flu that has been found on an increasing number of farms around the country and in migratory birds.

 

The country’s agriculture ministry said the H5N8 strain of bird flu had been detected on six poultry farms and that there had been 13 cases in migratory birds since the first outbreak earlier this month.

 

No human infection has been reported, while the ministry is looking into four additional reports from poultry farms and more than 50 other suspected cases in migratory birds, it said in a statement on Monday.

 

 

South Korea will slaughter over 1.4 million farm birds, including 644,000 that have already been killed, according to the ministry. That would be under 1 percent of the country’s total 160 million poultry population.

 

The first case of H5N8 bird flu was found on January 17 at a duck farm in the southwestern province of North Jeolla, about 300 km (186 miles) from Seoul.

Resurgent bird flu epidemic cuts into China’s live poultry sales|Society|News|WantChinaTimes.com

Resurgent bird flu epidemic cuts into China’s live poultry sales|Society|News|WantChinaTimes.com.

This couple in Shanghai are opting for frozen chicken instead of live poultry in the wake of the H7N9 scare, Jan. 17. (Photo/CNS)This couple in Shanghai are opting for frozen chicken instead of live poultry in the wake of the H7N9 scare, Jan. 17. (Photo/CNS)

Live poultry traders in Hangzhou saw business halted Friday at the height of the Lunar New Year sales period due to the resurgent bird flu epidemic.

Hangzhou, capital city of east China’s Zhejiang province, announced Thursday that live poultry trading in its main urban areas would be halted on Friday to help contain H7N9 bird flu infections.

“So many live chickens in cages. What will I do with them?” said Li Xuemin, a live poultry vendor in the Songmuchang Open Fair in Hangzhou.

Li smoked with a glum look on his face while sitting next to his live chickens, about 40 in total, which were spreading their wings in their cages.

Li, who has been in the business for around two decades, complained about “entering the wrong business for half a lifetime,” as he had already experienced several rounds of market shutdowns due to bird flu infections.

As of Friday, Zhejiang has reported 37 cases of human H7N9 infection, the most among all regions nationwide. It was also the site of the country’s first confirmed human-to-human transmission last November.

In a circular, city authorities ordered live poultry markets in six districts to be disinfected and launched widespread monitoring over domestic fowl and birds in poultry farms, migratory bird habitats, and parks. The city’s live poultry markets and stalls were closed on Friday.

Early Friday morning, Li and his peers in the market began disinfection of their stalls and thought of ways to get rid of their live chickens and ducks.

“We have to send some to friends and relatives. As for the rest, we might slaughter them then put them in the freezer,” said Li. He added that he had decided to return to his hometown for Spring Festival early, but regretted missing out on the money-making opportunity.

The period leading up to the Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, is traditionally the annual peak season for live poultry sales. The holiday falls on Jan. 31 this year and is an occasion when families get together in China.

Hangzhou’s two largest live poultry markets, Gouzhuang and Dajiang, closed on Wednesday.

Before its closure, live poultry trade in the Gouzhuang market totaled over 100,000 birds per day, with more than 70,000 chickens and 30,000 ducks, pigeons and geese sold daily and hundreds of fully loaded trucks pulling in and out of the market.

Now the market is quiet, with only sterilized empty cages and signs that say, “Live poultry processing forbidden, offenders fined with suspension of business.”

Jiaxing Lihua Livestock, a leading poultry enterprise in Zhejiang, suffered a massive direct loss of over 22 million yuan (US$3.63 million) in 2013.

“We prepared about three million chickens for the Lunar New Year market. When the market ban went into effect, there were still over 700,000 live chickens ready to go to market,” said Wang Zewen, chief manager with the enterprise.

“Even before the market ban, we suffered losses of about 6 yuan (US$0.99) for each chicken sold. While the market is closed, we are doomed to face even greater losses,” he said.

It is estimated that the ban will affect sales of about 10 million live poultry in the province, according to statistics released by the Zhejiang provincial poultry industry association.

On Thursday, five new human H7N9 cases were reported in Zhejiang, which has seen new H7N9 cases for the past 15 consecutive days.

Over this period, the live poultry industry has experienced a 70% drop in sales with prices falling over 50%, according to a survey on poultry businesses conducted by the association.

The neighboring city of Shanghai will also halt live poultry trading from the Spring Festival, to April 30 each year starting in 2014.

The city reported two more deaths from the H7N9 bird flu, raising the toll from the deadly virus to four so far this year, the Shanghai mayor said Thursday, without giving further details.

Clashes erupt after Turkey trial verdicts – Europe – Al Jazeera English

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Turkey threatens to deploy army to end unrest – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Turkey threatens to deploy army to end unrest – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Turkey protests continue as tourism woes grow – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Turkey protests continue as tourism woes grow – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

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