China’s Bird Flu Problem Is Getting Worse

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
By Paul Martin

Jennifer Welsh
Apr. 9, 2013

China has been paralyzed by an emerging human strain of bird flu, H7N9, which has now infected 28 people, 8 of whom died. In just the last two days, four more people have tested positive for the virus, according to Xinhua.

The latest case has hospitalized a 62-year-old man in Shanghai. About 30 percent of patients who have been diagnosed with the virus have died.

The virus took its first victims in early March. This is the first time that the H7N9 flu strain has made the jump into humans, so we haven’t built up a natural resistance. Luckily, the virus doesn’t seem to be able to spread between humans, though it’s possible it could mutate and gain this ability.

Chinese authorities are killing off birds — 20,000 in one poultry market — in areas where the infection has popped up, to try to stop the virus from spreading further. Doctors are being trained in how to handle these infections, and a vaccine is being developed.

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