China shuts poultry markets after bird flu outbreak

A laboratory worker carries out an autopsy on dead wild geese, looking for evidence of the bird flu virus. Jan. 2017. (Reuters File Photo)

Several Chinese cities are shutting down their poultry markets in the wake of a bird flu outbreak that has killed at least two dozen people this year across China.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday that live poultry sales have been suspended in Changsha, the capital of central China's Hunan province, as well as markets across the eastern province of Zhejiang.

Xinhua reported that 21 people in Jiangsu province died in January after contracting H7N9. Hunan authorities have reported at least five deaths this year, and an infant girl has died in southwestern Yunnan province.

A major H7N9 bird flu outbreak in humans first struck China in March 2013, killing more than 40 people and devastating the poultry industry. H7N9 is considered less virulent than the H5N1 strain.