A total 14 people have now fallen ill with the H7N9 strain of the virus, with authorities confirming yesterday that six people have now died. Several of those who contracted the virus were poultry workers, with a butcher amongst the dead.
According to Chinese media, the cull at the Huhuai market was ordered after pigeons at the market tested positive for the virus. However, officials said that tracking down the source of infection is proving difficult because infected birds do not seem to show symptoms.
This is the first human outbreak of H7N9 bird flu and there is so far no vaccine available for the strain. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that so far there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission, and that Chinese authorities were working to establish “possible sources and reservoirs of illness”.
“The Chinese government is actively investigating this event and has heightened disease surveillance. Retrospective testing of recently reported cases with severe respiratory infection may uncover additional cases that were previously unrecognised,” said a WHO spokesperson.
“An inter-government task force has been formally established, with the National Health and Family Planning Commission leading the coordination along with the Ministry of Agriculture and other key ministries.”
The WHO said that at this point it did not recommend that any trade restrictions be imposed.