China's bird flu death toll rises to eight

Jiangsu is north of Shanghai, which so far has been the hardest hit by the virus, with five fatalities. Officials who disclosed the death did not release further details of Tuesday’s death beyond its location.

So far, health officials have urged calm, saying there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus, which could cause it to spread rapidly.

Chicken-ing out: A man stands next to a closed poultry stall owing to fears of an outbreak of bird flu. Pic/AFP

To guard against the spread of the virus from other species, Chinese officials have advised people to avoid live poultry, sent virologists to chicken farms and slaughtered tens of thousands of birds at a wholesale market in Shanghai where the virus was detected in a pigeon.

Jiangsu Province is one of four geographic areas in eastern China that are believed to be the epicentre of the flu outbreak. In addition to Shanghai, cases have been reported in Anhui and Zhejiang provinces.

To combat the outbreak, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have begun work on a vaccine.

Additionally, an association of pigeon enthusiasts plans to vaccinate up to 90,000 of the birds in China to help ward off the spread of the latest avian flu.

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