Bird flu spreads, bringing death toll to 13

23 Apr

In February 2013 a strain of bird flu never seen before in humans broke out in Shanghai. Since then the virus has spread outside of the city into the central province of Henan and the capital city, Beijing. This has brought the total number of reported cases to 60, along with two more deaths, bringing the total to 13.So far there has been no evidence of human to human transmission; therefore it is believed that those infected have caught the virus through contact with infected poultry.

In order to try and control the spread of the virus, the authorities have banned sales of racing pigeons (a popular activity in China) and transported birds away from markets in Beijing, banning bird sales. This has left many bird sellers unhappy, claiming that “people like us who sell bird food and medicine can barely cover our rent or buy meals because of the declining sales.” However other market stall owners are more understanding, with one woman saying that “we have to listen to the people above us, this is a matter of life and death.” While some people believe that the government is doing all it can, there are others who are very suspicious of the government, questioning their efforts to contain the H7N9 bird flu. Such people are worried that the health authorities may be hiding the true extent of the virus, due to the fact they have done such a thing in the past. A professor at the School of Government at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat Sen University stated that “the problem is not that the government releases the information too quickly, but that it always has this internal logic that prefers to delay and conceal information. The excuse is that it wants to prevent panic.” After having been accused of trying to cover up the Sars breakout in 2002, the Chinese government has promised to be more transparent and openly share information about the virus.

Although so far there have been no reported cases of human transmission or any cases outside of China, due to the fact that the H7N9 is a form of avian flu never to have been found in humans before, there is very limited information about it, causing great worry in China and the surrounding countries. The authorities in Hong Kong are introducing their own precautionary measures, such as heightened checks at immigration points and other nearby countries have also improved their own influenza responses.


One Response to “Bird flu spreads, bringing death toll to 13”

  1. kh13g11 April 25, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Past pandemics

    China is not a stranger to flu pandemics with the history of their pandemics being recorded well into recent memory. The most recent may be the H7N9 bird flu but there have been many more. In 1957-58 there was a major pandemic named ‘Asian Flu’ this was identified in China initially and led to deaths worldwide as 70 000 deaths occurred in the United States. Fortunately this strain of flu has not been found in humans since 1968 but this does however mean that no one currently under thirty has immunity from it H2N2. About a decade later in 1968-1969 another flu named ‘Hong Kong’ caused a pandemic and this led to 34000 deaths in the US. This H3N2 virus is still in circulation today.
    In 1977 Russian Flu (H1N1) was responsible for transmission from birds to humans similar to the Asian flu and was isolated to northern China, meaning those born before 1957 were relatively unaffected wh9ilstthose who were infants and in the earlier stages of their lives were vulnerable. In 1997, the year that the Hong Kong people were back under the protection of the Chinese after a period of British governorship there was a new type of influenza to appear in humans that is transmitted directly between birds and humans after links were discovered with poultry markets. 6 of the eighteen people in Hong Kong who were in hospital with the H5N1 virus ended up dead.
    More recently there have been appearances of new influenza strains in humans during 2003 and again later in 2009. In 2009 the WHO confirms that there have been 40 deaths from the H5N1 strain in China and the surrounding countries.

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