The death toll from a new strain of bird flu found in Shanghai, China has risen to six this week as the Chinese government staged a cull of thousands of birds in a thriving poultry market to prevent a potential spread of the disease.

Some 20,000 birds have been killed at the popular Huhaui bird market in the city after pigeons at smaller nearby markets were found to be infected with the disease.

Six people have now died of the new H7N9 strain of the disease from a total of 14 cases recorded since March.

The World Health Organisation have said that they believe the new strain can not be transmitted from person to person but the WHO are actively monitoring 400 people who have been in direct contact with the 14 patients.

bird flu

However the Guardian have reported that scientists are concerned that the virus, which shows no symptoms in the birds, could mutate to become contagious within humans.

Shanghai are also preventing any live animal imports into the city, which has a population of more than 23million people, and is also temporarily closing down other poultry markets.

According to Reuters there are also fears that concerns over a potential epidemic could lead to drastic dip in airline shares. Stocks in poultry-mear companies have already dropped significantly.

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  • Chinese health workers collect the bags of dead chickens at Huhuai wholesale agricultural market in Shanghai on April 5, 2013. Authorities in Shanghai began the mass slaughter of poultry at a market after the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed five people in China, was detected there, state media said.

  • Workers in protective clothing move bags out from a wholesale market during a culling operation as authorities detected a new bird flu strain in pigeons being sold for meat at the market in Shanghai, China, Friday April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • Workers in protective clothing chat during a culling operation as authorities detected the new bird flu strain in pigeons being sold for meat at a wholesale market in Shanghai on Friday April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • A Chinese policeman wears a mask as he guards an access to a wholesale market where authorities are culling poultry after the new bird flu strain was detected there in pigeons being sold for meat in Shanghai on Friday April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • In this photo taken Friday, April 5, 2013, a poultry vendor walks past his empty shop at a wholesale market in Shanghai. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • In this photo taken Friday, April 5, 2013, a cat looks at an empty poultry shop at a wholesale market in Shanghai. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • In this photo taken Friday April 5, 2013, a poultry vendor sits in front of his empty shop at a wholesale market in Shanghai. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • TAIWAN-CHINA-HEALTH-FLU

    A nurse (R) introduces the front desk for the negative pressure isolation rooms section, which will be used to treat potential H7N9 avian influenza patients, at Taipei Hoping Hospital on April 6, 2013. Taiwan enhanced its level of alert against bird flu and set up a contingency centre on April 3 after reports in mainland China of new infections from a new strain of avian influenza. The new infections alarmed the authorities in Taiwan, which is separated from the Chinese mainland only by a 180-kilometre (111.6 miles) strait and which has seen a dramatic influx of 2.6 million Chinese visitors last year due to the fast warming ties between Taipei and Beijing.

  • TAIWAN-CHINA-HEALTH-FLU

    A nurse speaks on the phone next to a monitor showing an empty bed inside a negative pressure isolation room, which will be used to treat potential H7N9 avian influenza patients, at Taipei Hoping Hospital on April 6, 2013. Taiwan enhanced its level of alert against bird flu and set up a contingency centre on April 3 after reports in mainland China of new infections from a new strain of avian influenza. The new infections alarmed the authorities in Taiwan, which is separated from the Chinese mainland only by a 180-kilometre (111.6 miles) strait and which has seen a dramatic influx of 2.6 million Chinese visitors last year due to the fast warming ties between Taipei and Beijing.

  • Prepared ducks are hung to be cooked at a restaurant in Shanghai, China on Friday, April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from the new bird flu H7N9 strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat. The first cases were announced Sunday.

  • In this April 3, 2013 photo, a worker pushes a cart as live pigeons are sold at a cage at a poultry wholesale market in Shanghai China. China announced a sixth death from the new bird flu H7N9 strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat. The first cases were announced Sunday.

  • Free-range chickens are seen in Shanghai, China, on Friday, April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from the new bird flu H7N9 strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat. The first cases were announced Sunday.

  • A worker catches a live chicken at a poultry market in Shanghai, China on Friday, April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from the new bird flu H7N9 strain Friday, while authorities in Shanghai halted the sale of live fowl and slaughtered all poultry at a market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat. The first cases were announced Sunday.

  • Workers in protective clothing move bags out from a wholesale market during a culling operation as authorities detected the new bird flu strain in pigeons being sold for meat at the market in Shanghai on Friday April 5, 2013. China announced a sixth death from a new bird flu strain Friday, while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • Chickens are sold at a poultry market in Shanghai, China on Friday, April 5, 2013. China announced Friday a sixth death from a new bird flu strain while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • Chickens are seen at a cage as they are sold at a poultry market in Shanghai, China on Friday, April 5, 2013. China announced Friday a sixth death from a new bird flu strain while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • A vender leans on a cage at a poultry market in Shanghai, China on Friday, April 5, 2013. China announced Friday a sixth death from a new bird flu strain while authorities carried out the slaughter of all poultry at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat.

  • Chinese health workers collect the bags of dead chickens at Huhuai wholesale agricultural market in Shanghai on April 5, 2013. Authorities in Shanghai began the mass slaughter of poultry at a market after the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed five people in China, was detected there, state media said.

  • A policeman stands guard as Chinese health workers collect the bags of dead chickens at Huhuai wholesale agricultural market in Shanghai on April 5, 2013. Authorities in Shanghai began the mass slaughter of poultry at a market after the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed five people in China, was detected there, state media said.

  • Chinese health workers collect the bags of dead chickens at Huhuai wholesale agricultural market in Shanghai on April 5, 2013. Authorities in Shanghai began the mass slaughter of poultry at a market after the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed five people in China, was detected there, state media said.

  • A policeman goes after a chicken that broke loose as Chinese health workers started culling chickens at Huhuai wholesale agricultural market in Shanghai on April 5, 2013. Authorities in Shanghai began the mass slaughter of poultry at a market after the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed five people in China, was detected there, state media said.

  • Chinese health workers collect dead chickens at Huhuai wholesale agricultural market in Shanghai on April 5, 2013. Authorities in Shanghai began the mass slaughter of poultry at a market after the H7N9 bird flu virus, which has killed five people in China, was detected there, state media said.