China confirms second human bird flu infection this week

China confirms second human bird flu infection this week
PHOTO: Reuters

Chinese authorities have confirmed a second case of human bird flu infection this week, state media reported late on Wednesday, as South Korea and Japan battle to control outbreaks of the deadly virus.

Local authorities ordered a halt to poultry sales from Thursday in the Siming district of Xiamen city, in China's eastern Fujian province, after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with the H7N9 avian flu on Sunday, Xinhau reported citing the city's diseases prevention and control centre.

The patient is being treated in hospital and is stable condition, it said.

The latest incident comes after Hong Kong confirmed an elderly man was diagnosed with the disease earlier this week.

Both cases come as South Korea and Japan have ordered the killing of tens of millions of birds in the past month, stoking fears of regional spread.

South Korea confirms highly pathogenic bird flu outbreaks

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    South Korea's agriculture ministry said it will issue a temporary nationwide ban on the transportation of poultry to contain the spread of bird flu, with 43 outbreaks recorded in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

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    Since the first outbreak of a severe strain of bird flu known as H5N6 was reported on Nov.18., South Korea has ramped up quarantine measures to stop a wider spread of the virus, including issuing a 48-hour nationwide standstill order three weeks ago.

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    To prevent the spread of bird flu, the ministry said at least 8.8 million farm birds were culled and plans to slaughter 1.5 million more. That would be over 10 per cent of the country's poultry population of nearly 85 million.

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    Although cases of human infections from the H5N6 virus have previously been reported elsewhere including China, no cases of human infection have been found in South Korea.

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    South Korean health officials disinfect a stream which migratory birds stay in winter temporarily, to prevent spread of bird flu

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    A South Korean health official disinfects a vehicle to prevent spread of bird flu in Pohang, South Korea

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Concerns about the spread of the virulent airborne bird flu comes as farmers in China are preparing for the year's peak demand during Lunar New Year celebrations at the end of January.

In light of the recent outbreaks in nearby countries, they are feeding their flocks more vitamins and vaccines and ramping up henhouse sterilizations in a bid to protect their birds.

On Wednesday, authorities said they would ban imports of poultry from countries where there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu. It already prohibits imports from more than 60 nations, including Japan and South Korea.

H7N9 is a bird flu strain first reported to have infected humans in March 2013 in China.

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