Chinese city suspends poultry trade amid bird flu fears



Wuxi will suspend its poultry trade from Thursday amid fears about bird flu, becoming the second city in Jiangsu province to halt live poultry markets.

The city will close its live poultry wholesale markets, restrict vehicles carrying live poultry from entering markets and temporarily ban the entry of outside poultry, the city’s information office said on Wednesday on its official microblog.

Suzhou, next to Wuxi, said on Sunday it would suspend the trade of live poultry in the interests of public health after neighbouring provinces reported cases of human bird flu infections.

At least seven people in mainland China have been infected this winter with the H7N9 bird flu strain and two have died. Hong Kong reported one death on Christmas Day.

Wuxi and Suzhou lie on the shores of the 2,250-sq-km Taihu lake, a favourite stopover for migratory birds, and are just west of China’s financial capital of Shanghai where one case of human bird flu infection was reported last week.

Wuxi said it would strengthen efforts in monitoring the H7N9 strain and focus on disease control and prevention in places like poultry farms and migratory bird habitats.

“Winter and spring are high seasons for the H7N9 strain. Wuxi city issued the notice to protect public health and maintain public health safety,” the microblog said.

Jiangsu’s provincial commission of health and family planning said there were no new cases of infection.

“Local governments have already taken relevant measures, as you have noticed. There are no new cases,” an official at the authority said.

Meanwhile, Xinjiang region has culled more than 55,000 chickens and other poultry following an outbreak of a highly virulent bird flu that has infected 16,000 birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The H5N6 strain of the virus was confirmed in Yining, a city of 500,000 people, and has killed 10,716 birds, the ministry said.

It is the fourth flu outbreak among poultry since October and brings the total cull since then to more than 170,000 birds. Flocks are particularly vulnerable to avian flu during the winter months and sporadic outbreaks are relatively common.

The culling comes amid fears about the spread of avian flu across Asia, with South Korea battling its worst-ever outbreak and Japan and India also killing flocks.