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60,000 carrier pigeons grounded for vaccine in E China


07:58, April 09, 2013

HANGZHOU, April 8 (Xinhua) -- More than 60,000 carrier pigeons in east China's Zhejiang Province have been grounded for vaccinations as the H7N9 avian influenza virus spreads in the country.

The pigeons in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, will be injected with bird flu vaccines free of charge within a week. The vaccine, however, will guard them against another type of bird flu, not the new, lesser-known H7N9 virus, said Wang Guanrong, secretary general of the city's carrier pigeon association.

"The vaccine specifically for the H7N9 virus has not been developed yet," said Wang.

The association has also distributed disinfectant fluid to carrier pigeon enthusiasts.

According to an urgent circular issued by the association on Saturday, all contests for carrier pigeons have been suspended.

Liao Yan, a member of the association, said the move to cage the pigeons was intended to ease public concern, as the H7N9 virus seldom spreads through live pigeons.

"The body temperature of pigeons is 42 degrees Celsius, which leaves a very low possibility that the virus can survive," said Liao, adding that people can not be infected unless they come into contact with infected birds that have died.

Three more human cases of H7N9 bird flu, including one death, had been reported as of 6 p.m. Monday, bringing the total number of infected people in the country to 24, including seven who have died.

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