This winter, those policies have led to poultry markets around the country being shut down and some 175,000 birds being culled as Chinese authorities have become increasingly anxious about the spread of the deadly virus.
Eight cities in east China's Jiangxi Province reported a total of 28 human H7N9 avian flu cases, including seven fatalities, from January 1 to February 12 this year, the provincial health and family planning commission said Thursday. Unlike other avian flu strains that cause disease in humans, H7N9 is a low-pathogenic strain in poultry, and infected birds don't usually show signs of illness.
Authorities have warned against panic and urged precautions, but nevertheless the numbers triggered concern of a repeat of previous health crises, such as the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002.
Testing by provincial officials has also turned up positive tests that led to poultry market closures in cities in Guangdong and Hunan.
Guangzhou suspended markets for some days through March [nL4N1EV3 OP] Hunan 20 5 H7N9 Authorities closed live poultry markets in several cities including provincial capital Changsha Zhejiang 35 H7N9 Provinces ordered all live poultry markets shut Jiangsu 4 H7N9 Three cities - Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou - suspended live poultry trade after neighbouring provinces infected Anhui 5 2 H7N9 The province shut some livestock markets and stepped up sterilisation Fujian 1 H7N9 Jiangxi 6 H7N9 Guizhou 1 H7N9 Shanghai 4 H7N9 Shandong 2 1 H7N9 Henan 2 H7N9 Beijing 1 H7N9 Yunan 1 H7N9 Hong Kong 3 2 H7N9 Macau 2 H7N9 * China's government did not specify where each human infection case took place. These live poultry markets accounts for over a third of the chicken meat sales in the country in the past year.
"The situation is still ongoing, and our Chinese counterparts are actively investigating the reported cases", the World Health Organisation's China Representative Office said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
Most people infected with H7N9 are believed to contract it by touching infected poultry or entering contaminated areas, according to a World Health Organization alert published last month.
China has seen an uptick of cases of H7N9.
H7N9 had spread widely and early this year, but most cases were contained in the same areas as previous years, including the Yangtze River Delta and Guangdong, Shu Yuelong, head of the Chinese National Influenza Centre, told state radio.
Hospital staff treats an H7N9 bird flu patient on Sunday in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province.
A second human case was reported on Tuesday. The CDC says "in rare cases, limited, non-sustained person-to-person spread of H7N9 virus likely occurred, but there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human infection".
The Health and Family Planning Commission of southwestern Yunnan province said a woman died from H7N9 on Tuesday night. Twenty-six swabs tested positive for H7N9, majority samples from market poultry in four provinces: Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, and Jiangsu.