BEIJING (AP) — China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain today, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.
The mass bird killing is the first so far as the Chinese government responds to the H7N9 strain of bird flu, which has sickened 16 people, many critically, along the eastern seaboard in its first known infections of people. The first cases were announced Sunday, while two more were reported today, both retirees who were seriously ill.
Health officials believe people are contracting the virus through direct contact with infected fowl and say there has been no evidence so far that the virus is spreading easily between people. However, scientists are watching closely to see if the flu poses a substantial risk to public health or could potentially spark a global pandemic.
The Agriculture Ministry confirmed late Thursday that the H7N9 virus had been detected in live pigeons on sale at a produce market in Shanghai. The killing of birds at the Huhuai market in Shanghai started Thursday night after the city’s agricultural committee ordered it in a notice also posted on its website.