Friday, January 31, 2014

H7N9 bird flu resurges in China ahead of Lunar New Year

CNN: ... In recent weeks, China has seen a spike in cases and experts are worried that infections will gather pace as the country celebrates the Lunar New Year this week - a peak time for travel and for poultry sales. Since the strain was first reported in Shanghai in February 2013, it has affected 246 in mainland China, according to Hong Kong's Department of Health. The World Health Organization says that 56 have died from the disease.

The number of cases faded after May, but returned in late 2013. Like all flu strains, H7N9 cases increase during colder months. In January alone, 19 deaths and 96 human cases have been reported, according to figures from the Chinese Center for Disease Control cited by state news agency Xinhua on Monday -- rivaling the initial wave of H7N9 cases seen in March 2013.

Cases have also been reported in Taiwan and in Hong Kong, which on Tuesday began culling 20,000 chickens after a sample of live chicken imported from mainland China tested positive for H7 viruses According to the WHO, most of the human cases were exposed to the H7N9 virus through contact with poultry or contaminated environments, such as live bird markets,

"When the chickens are very overcrowded, at the time of festivals like Christmas, Chinese New Year, and there are no bio-security measures taken, then the virus spreads through poultry very quickly," said Dr. Kwok-Yung Yuen, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Hong Kong. "It's also possible that travelers will bring live poultry back to their own villages," he added....

Fowl cages at a market in Shenzhen, shot by Daniel Case, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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