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Avian flu quiets song in bird market

By Shan Juan and He Na in Beijing, Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

08:52, April 08, 2013

Pigeons at the People's Square in Shanghai. The wild pigeons have been caged and the local authorities have carried out cleaning and sterilization work.( Gao Erqiang / China Daily)

Trading of live poultry suspended following deaths, report Shan Juan and He Na in Beijing, and Wang Hongyi in Shanghai.

Few stalls were open on Sunday in Shanghai's Wanshang flower and bird market in the wake of deaths from the H7N9 strain of bird flu. Sunday is usually the busiest day of the week as bird lovers of all ages wander around and listen to the chorus of thousands of birds.

On April 6, the local government ordered the suspension of all trading in live poultry and pet birds, but so far there has been no official directive to close the market.
In addition to Shanghai, the trade in live poultry has also been suspended in the cities of Nanjing and Hangzhou. Meanwhile, the rest of the country looks on nervously.

Investigations conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture to determine the source of H7N9 have shown that the strain is prevalent at live poultry markets in the affected areas, but so far it has not yet been detected at poultry farms.

The possibility that the virus was brought into the country by migrant birds could not be ruled out so far, said Yu Kangzhen, China's chief veterinarian with the Ministry of Agriculture.

The first death from the strain was reported on March 2. As of Sunday, there were 21 confirmed cases, 12 of them severe and two mild, and six people have died, according to official statistics.

So far, the areas affected are the municipality of Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui.

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