China to vaccinate 90,000 pigeons against bird flu

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A woman (R) wears a mask on the Metro underground system in Shanghai on April 9, 2013 as the H7N9 avian influenza has killed seven people and sickened 24 in the country. The World Health Organisation said on April 8 there is no evidence China’s new H7N9 strain of bird flu is spreading between humans, as the death toll rises and airline and tourism shares slumped. AFP/Peter Parks

BEIJING — An association of pigeon enthusiasts plans to vaccinate up to 90,000 of the birds in eastern China to help ward off the spread of the latest avian flu.

Pigeons became a source of concern after one in Shanghai was found infected with the new H7N9 strain of bird flu. At least 24 people have been infected and seven of them have died in the outbreak.

The Hangzhou Carrier Pigeon Association said Monday that it will use a different flu vaccine in the vaccination drive since none exists for H7N9.

Beyond vaccines, the group announced the suspension of racing contests and told its members to prepare to keep their pigeons caged for one to two months.

Raising carrier pigeons, also called homing pigeons, is a common hobby in China.

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