By Katie Nelson
One of China’s largest organisations of pigeon fanciers, the Hangzhou Carrier Pigeon Association, is temporarily suspending all bird races and urging its members to vaccinate their some 90,000 pigeons in an attempt to halt the spread of the H7N9 bird flu which has now shown up to 24 cases in China, leaving seven dead.
According to Xinhua:
The pigeons in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, will be injected with bird flu vaccines free of charge within a week. The vaccine, however, will guard them against another type of bird flu, not the new, lesser-known H7N9 virus, said Wang Guanrong, secretary general of the city’s carrier pigeon association.
The association, comprised of carrier pigeon breeders and pigeon racing hobbyists, has told its members to keep their birds caged for up to two months in an attempt to ease public qualms.
The birds became a cause of concern after pigeon samples from Chinese poultry markets tested positive for the H7N9 virus and the trading areas were forced to shut down.
While there is no vaccine available specifically for the H7N9 strain, authorities recently approved of a drug that China FDA believes will be effective in treating the virus.