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Shanghai orders mass slaughter after sixth bird flu death

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Authorities have carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market after the virus for the new strain of bird flu was found in pigeons being sold for meat. China has announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain; although officials say there is no indication that the disease is being transmitted from human to human.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The mass bird killing this week is the first instance the Chinese government has responded to the H7N9 strain of bird flu. The disease has sickened 16 people, many critically, along the country's eastern seaboard. The first cases were announced Sunday.

Officials believe people contract the virus through direct contact with infected fowl. There has been no evidence so far that the virus is spreading easily between people.

Scientists are watching closely, however, to see if the flu poses a substantial risk to public health or could potentially spark a global pandemic.

The H7N9 virus had been detected in live pigeons on sale at a produce market in Shanghai, the Agriculture Ministry confirmed this week. 

The killing of birds at the Huhuai market started immediately after the city's agricultural committee ordered it in a notice also posted on its Web site.

State media ran pictures of animal health officials in protective overalls and masks working through the night at the market, scribbling notes as they stood over piles of poultry carcasses in plastic bags in an area guarded by police and cordoned off with plastic tape.

Experts urged Chinese health authorities to keep testing healthy birds, saying the H7N9 virus can infect birds without causing disease, making it harder to detect than the H5N1 bird flu virus that is more familiar to Asian countries.

H5N1 ravaged poultry across Asia in 2003 and has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after close contact with infected birds.

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