Chinese Officials Rush to Contain Spread of Bird Flu

Twenty-one cases of bird flu have been identified in China, and six of the cases have resulted in death.

In the past week, Chinese officials have slaughtered more than 20,000 birds in a poultry market and shut down countless vendors selling birds in eastern China. These authorities are in a race against the perpetual spread of the H7N9 influenza, more commonly known as the bird flu.

Sunday, the World Health Organization confirmed 21 cases of the disease in humans, six of whom have died. All the cases have been in and around Shanghai. While these human cases have been detected, there has been no evidence yet that the bird flu has been transmitted from human to human. If this occurs, an epidemic could follow.

This is a different strain of the bird flu that was prominent in Asia in the last decade.

“Unlike H5N1, where chickens were dying off on a large scale, with this virus we don’t have a red flag that immediately signals an infection,” Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said in a statement on the organization’s website. “This means farmers may not be aware that virus is circulating in their flock. Biosecurity and hygiene measures will help people protect themselves from virus circulating in seemingly healthy birds or other animals."

The Chinese government has formed a task force to contain the spread of the disease as quickly as possible.

The FAO has also released precautions that those in the affected area should take, which can be found on its website.

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