China bird flu outbreak peaks

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Cases of the endemic H7N9 bird flu appears to have peaked in China but incidences of the flu are expected to continue into late April, according to epidemiologists.

China bird flu outbreak peaks

The National Health and Family Planning Commission, Ni Daxin, deputy director of emergency response for the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the virus seemed to have been contained as fewer new cases were being reported, according to China Daily.

Ni said that more live poultry markets should be shut down temporarily to slow the spread of the virus, as this measure had proved effective.

A total of 192 human cases of H7N9, of which 79 were fatal, were reported for January, making this season the worst since the virus first appeared in the country in 2013, according to the commission. The season, which started in October, saw 306 people being infected. By the end of January, 100 of these had died in 16 provinces.

“The ultimate way out is to upgrade the industry, shifting to large-scale poultry farming and slaughtering,” Ni said.

He added that if the public bought only frozen poultry, control of the epidemic will be much easier.

“The nutritional value is equal to that of freshly slaughtered poultry, but it involves far fewer health risks.”

Data released by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has identified bird flu in 77 countries. Between January 2014 and November 2016, the OIE detected 13 strains of the disease worldwide.

These outbreaks have led to large-scale culling of poultry in several countries. Animal quarantine authorities in Taiwan slaughtered at least 150 000 birds after one outbreak, the South China Morning Post reported.

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