New Bird Flu Strain Found in China

Poultry markets on close watch after virus detected in bird samples

A previously unknown strain of avian flu has been discovered in China, and the agriculture commission has ordered stricter monitoring of poultry trading areas after the virus was detected in samples from at least three poultry markets.

According to Xinhua, 14 people have so far been infected with the new strain of H7N9 avian flu. Six have died and several others are listed as being in critical condition at a hospital in Nanjing. One of the people diagnosed with the new strain of avian flu was a 38-year-old cook, another was a poultry butcher, and one was a poultry transporter.

So far it seems like people are contracting the disease through contact with infected birds, and no cases of the virus are reported to have been transmitted from one human to another.

Shanghaiist reports that on Thursday the ministry of agriculture shut down a poultry market in Shanghai after pigeon samples there tested positive avian flu. Scientists said that after gene sequencing the virus strain at the poultry market was discovered to match the virus in the infected patients.

The market was ordered to be immediately shut down and all the poultry slaughtered. Two other markets also had their trade suspended and were ordered to be disinfected after the virus was found at them.

The health and planning commission says vaccines for the new strain might be six to eight months away.

If a new strain of bird flu was not enough, on April 3 a man in Hunan died of what was initially reported to be the new bird flu, but he was actually infected with a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu.

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